19th Week in Ordinary Time
Stephen of Hungary
1st Reading: Ezk 12:1–12*
This word of Yahweh came to me, “Son of man, you live in the midst of a house of rebels: they have eyes for seeing but do not see. Because of this, prepare for yourself an exile’s baggage in their sight as an exile does; and go as an exile to another place in their sight.”
“You will gather your things, an exile’s baggage, by day to be seen by them, and you will leave in the evening as for a departure of deportees. While they look on, dig a hole in the wall and leave from there. Veil your face and do not look at the land for I have made you a sign for Israel.”
In the morning the word of Yahweh came to me: “Son of man, did not the Israelites, these rebels, ask you, ‘What are you doing there?’ Answer them on behalf of Yahweh: This oracle concerns the prince in Jerusalem and all the Israelites remaining in the city.
“Say, ‘I am a sign for you,’ for what I have done will happen to them: They will be deported, exiled. The prince among them shall shoulder his baggage in the dark and depart. They will dig a hole in the wall to let him leave by it. He will cover his face because he must not see the land with his eyes.
Gospel: Matthew 18:21—19:1
Peter asked Jesus, “Lord, how many times must I forgive the offenses of my brother or sister? Seven times?” Jesus answered, “No, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. This story throws light on the kingdom of heaven. A king decided to settle the accounts of his servants. Among the first was one who owed him ten thousand gold ingots. As the man could not repay the debt, the king commanded that he be sold as a slave with his wife, children and all his goods in payment.
The official threw himself at the feet of the king and said, ‘Give me time, and I will pay you back everything.’ The king took pity on him and not only set him free but even canceled his debt.
This official then left the king’s presence and he met one of his companions who owed him a hundred pieces of silver. He grabbed him by the neck and almost strangled him, shouting, ‘Pay me what you owe!’ His companion threw himself at his feet and asked him, ‘Give me time, and I will pay everything.’ The other did not agree, but sent him to prison until he had paid all his debt.
His companions saw what happened. They were indignant and so they went and reported everything to their lord. Then the lord summoned his official and said, ‘Wicked servant, I forgave you all that you owed when you begged me to do so. Weren’t you bound to have pity on your companion as I had pity on you?’ The lord was now angry, so he handed his servant over to be punished, until he had paid his whole debt.”
Jesus added, “So will my heavenly Father do with you unless each of you sincerely forgive your brother or sister.”
When Jesus had finished this teaching, he left Galilee and arrived at the border of Judea, on the other side of the Jordan River.
If we have the blessed gift of forgetfulness, let us not criticize ourselves for it. A naturally forgetful person cannot bear a grudge for long, as King Darius knew when he commissioned a slave to shout in his ear three times a day: “Sire remember the Athenians!” But can we simply choose to forget? There is a difference between simple recollection and a willful harboring of resentment. But we can choose not to nurse and feed our resentments; then they may eventually die of malnutrition.
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