Two weeks ago, we heard in Matthew 16:21-27, Jesus’ Passion prediction, that the Son of Man must suffer and die and rise again on the third day. This Passion prediction was God’s promise that through his Son, God would remove the obstacle of sin which separated us from God. In last Sunday’s Gospel from Matthew 18:15-20, Jesus called his disciples to confront sin with love. Paul likewise has been speaking to us through his letter to the Romans that we should not conform to this age or any age and become worldly, rather we were told in last Sunday’s second reading from Romans 13:8-10 that we are to love and by loving we are transformed, because one who truly loves cannot do evil to their neighbor.

The Scriptures from the Twenty Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time remind us that unforgiveness is regressive, it causes us to conform to the world rather than to be transformed by the love of Christ. In the Gospel of Matthew 18:21-35, God our Father, issues a cease-and-desist order from unforgiveness. Peter asked Jesus, “Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive? As many as seven times? Jesus answered, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.” This response by Jesus reveals that we are to forgive infinitely. This call to forgive an infinite number of times reveals more about God than about ourselves. It is God who has responded to his own cease-and-desist order, for it is God who forgives us infinitely and it is God who calls us to love as God loves and to forgive as God forgives. The parable Jesus offers in today’s Gospel illustrates this fact.
The King was a just master but the servant whom the just master had forgiven was an unjust servant. The unjust servant passed judgment on himself because he had an unforgiving heart. “When his fellow servants saw what had happened, they were deeply disturbed and went to their master and reported the whole affair. His master summoned him and said to him, “You wicked servant. I forgave your entire debt because you begged me to, should you have not forgiven and have bad pity on your fellow servant; as I have had pity on you?” We are to conform our lives to God not to the world and clearly that is not what the unjust servant decided to do.

St.  Paul tells us in today’s second reading that we are to be transformed so that we become like our God, to love as God loves; to forgive as God forgives. “For if we live, we live for the Lord, and if we die, we die for the Lord.” (Romans 14:8) The entirety of our lives is to reflect God’s presence. God even describes God’s self in Psalm 103 as kind and merciful, slow to anger, and rich in compassion. God introduced God’s self to Moses in Exodus 34:5-6 as merciful, gracious and compassionate. Just as God has revealed God’s self as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God gives us an insight to who the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are: The three persons of the Trinity are merciful, gracious and compassionate. This is what allows God to forgive us of our sins. If we then are transformed by God to become like our God, we then are able to be merciful, gracious and compassionate as our God. These are the words that describe the cease-and-desist order that Jesus issues in today’s Gospel, when he tells us to forgive not seven times but seventy-seven times. In the first reading from the Book of Sirach, the author reminds us that if we forgive, we will be forgiven. “Forgive your neighbor’s injustice then when you pray, your sins will be forgiven.” (Sirach 28:2)

The cease-and-desist order from unforgiveness enables us not to conform our lives to the world but rather enables us to be transformed by the love of God. God’s transformative love will enable us to realize God’s kingdom here and now and prepare ourselves in the process for the glory of God’s future kingdom. We can love as our God loves and forgive as our God forgives, with a boundless and infinite love and mercy.