Readings: Daniel 3:25, 34-43, Ps. 25:4-6,7a-9, Matthew 18:21-35

“You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you besought me; and should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?” (Matthew 18:32-33)

When Shadrach (Hananiah), Meschach (Mishael) and Abednego (Azariah) refused to partake in idol worship, they took a great leap of faith. King Nebuchadnezzar questioned them: “Is it true… that you do not serve my gods or worship the golden image which I have set up?” They answered: “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to answer you. If so, the God we serve can deliver us from the burning fiery furnace… But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image you have set up.” (Daniel 3:14-18).

The courage of these young men continues to inspire us today. Amid the fire, Abednego (Azariah) knelt and prayed for the entire Israelite nation. This prayer was a cry for mercy, an acknowledgement of the sins which led them into captivity. Whenever we call on God, He is always ready to forgive. Nevertheless, are we ready to extend His forgiveness to others? Jesus’ parable in today’s Gospel passage teaches us what becomes of us when we refuse to extend God’s mercy to those who hurt us. Let us now consider some lessons in today’s readings:

1. Before God, We Are All Servants: Though we may claim superiority over others based on education, wealth, and class, none of us is god. As much as you are free to decide whether or not to forgive those who hurt you, remember that one day, you will render an account of your life to God. The servant who threw his fellow servant in prison for his inability to pay a debt forgot that he remained answerable to his Master.

2. Refusing to Forgive Others is Wickedness: The Master addressed the servant, saying: “You wicked servant…” In other words, when we fail to extend God’s forgiveness to others, we are being wicked. The next time you feel like dealing with someone, think about how much God has forgiven you in the past. Think of what God could have done to you if He was not merciful. Jesus says: “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” (Luke 6:31).

3. Learn to Ask For What You Are Willing to Give: Before you ask God for anything, ask: “Am I ready to give what I am asking to others?” As Jesus taught us, “The measure you give will be the measure you get, and still, more will be given you.” (Mark 4:24). The servant pleaded for mercy but was unwilling to show mercy. In other words, if this servant were in his master’s position, he would not have forgiven himself. Why do we have high expectations from others that we are not ready to meet?

4. Dare to be Different; Forgive and Forget: Like Shadrach, Meshack and Abednego, forgiveness makes us exceptional. As much as we blame this servant in Jesus’ parable, the truth is that ninety-nine per cent of us would have done likewise. Forgiveness is not conventional. Many would even be angry with you for opting to forgive. However, we must not be like everyone else.

5. Offer Your Pain as a Sacrifice to God: One forgiveness strategy is asking God to accept your pain in exchange for blessings, healing, deliverance, breakthrough, etc., for someone in need. Then drop it. Take it as if no one offended you. Let the cycle of hate and wickedness end with you. Be kind to others, especially those who don’t deserve it, and urge them to pay it forward. This way, you begin a new cycle of love.

Let us pray: Almighty, ever-living God, I offer you my pains, hurts, heartbreaks, disappointments, and setbacks. Help me to let go as you let me know of my faults. Through Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Amen.

Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. God bless you. (Tuesday of the 3rd week of Lent. Bible Study: Daniel 3:25,34-43, Ps. 25:4-6,7a-9, Matthew 18:21-35).

@Rev. Fr. Evaristus E. Abu