To Forgive or Not Forgive

Post Date: September 14, 2023
Author: Ric Cross

A Reflection on the Readings for the 24thSunday in Ordinary Time, September 17, 2023

First Reading: SIR 27:30—28:7
Responsorial Psalm: PS 103:1-2, 3-4, 9-10, 11-12
Second Reading: ROM 14:7-9
Gospel: MT 18:21-35

Our gospel passage this week directly follows last Sunday’s gospel, and so the message of that gospel carries on to this week, but with a little twist. Last week, we were instructed to call attention to sin and evil in our midst rather than to turn a blind eye to such behavior. If we do not point out sin and evil in our communities, we become complicit in that evil because we accept it in our midst, and if we accept it, all of society suffers the consequences. If we call attention to evil and pray for those who are responsible for that evil, then, hopefully, fewer individuals will sin because they know they will be called to account for their behavior. This week, the message changes from Calling attention to sin and evil in our midst to reaching out in mercy to those who have offended us and will accept our forgiveness. 

Our first reading this week comes from the Book of Sirach, also known in our scriptures as the Book of Ecclesiasticus. The title “Ecclesiasticus” comes from the ancient Latin title: “Liber Ecclesiasticus,” meaning “Church Book,” which, in turn, comes from the extensive use of this book in the early church in presenting moral teaching to the faithful. That seems to be the overall message of the Book of Sirach, a book of moral teaching that concentrates on the praise of the Law, praise of the priesthood and of divine worship, Jewish tradition, social customs, poverty and wealth, and many other matters which reflect the religion and society of the time. Sirach is one of those seven Old Testament books not found in the Hebrew canon and rejected in the Protestant tradition as Deuterocanonical or “Second Canon.” In the Protestant tradition, Sirach is considered valuable for its moral teaching but not considered sacred.  

The title “Sirach” comes from the grandson of the original author, who describes himself as: “Jesus, son of Eleazar, son of Sirach” (50:27). The book was originally written in Hebrew in or around Jerusalem between 200 and 175 B.C. but was translated into Greek by the author’s grandson in 132 B.C. who also attached a foreword to the book describing why he made the translation. The foreword is interesting reading so I suggest you take a look at it because it also provides us with the actual date of the translation.

Our first reading this week comes from chapters 27 & 28 of Sirach and reminds us that malice, anger, and vengeance are hateful things and that it is the sinner who clings to them. We all know that to be true because anger grows like a cancer in us and will consume us if we don’t get rid of it. So Sirach (and Jesus in our gospel) reminds us that we cannot expect forgiveness from God for our transgressions if we do not extend that forgiveness to others who have offended us by their words or deeds. Sirach also reminds us to “Remember your last days;” in other words, think of the end of your life and get rid of enmity and vengeance before that day comes because, after it, there will be no further chance to get rid of it or to be forgiven by God for carrying that vengeance. Sirach’s message for us this week (and the Golden Thread): Forgive others to receive forgiveness from God.

Our second reading from the Letter to the Romans doesn’t directly follow the Golden Thread, but it does remind us that, as baptized Christians, we have been purchased by Christ at a great price and so: “Whether we live or die we are the Lord’s.” And, as Jesus is: “Lord of both the dead and the living,” we will always be subject to Jesus whether on earth or in the afterlife, whether in heaven or hell. There is no escape; forgive that you may be forgiven!

Our gospel this week is the “Parable of the Unforgiving Servant” and is very straightforward, requiring little or no commentary: Forgive or you will not be forgiven! But there are some points in this passage that we might overlook. For example, in answer to Peter’s question about how many times he must forgive a sinful brother, Jesus’ answer was not the absolute number of 77. Peter (and all of us) are told that our forgiveness must be limitless.  

We are told the unforgiving servant in the parable owed the master a “huge amount,” which, according to some commentaries, amounted to 10,000 talents, an amount so great that the servant would never be able to pay it back, making his promise to do so an empty promise. The debt is so great that it can never be repaid, yet the master forgave the debt. Similarly, the debt that we owe God because of our sins is a “huge amount” that we could never repay. In addition, everything we have comes from God, so we have nothing to offer God in reparation for our sins that we do not already owe God. Even our next breath is a gift from God and is owed to God. We cannot repay him. But the master forgives our debts if we turn to him with pure and contrite hearts and ask for that forgiveness.

The fellow servant owed a “much smaller amount,” which amounted to about 100 days’ wages, which the unforgiving servant would not forgive, as he had been forgiven. The difference between the two debts is so great that it points to the absurdity of the conduct of any Christian who receives the great forgiveness of God for a huge amount of transgressions yet will not forgive the relatively minor offenses done to him by others.  

The unforgiving servant was handed over to the torturers until he paid back the entire “huge amount,” which he could never do. God’s forgiveness, which we have already received through the Passion of Christ and the sacraments of the church, can be withdrawn in the final judgment if we do not forgive the “much smaller amount” of minor offenses we have received from others. 

The Golden Thread? Forgive, or face the consequences at the final judgment.

Author: Ric Cross

Recent Posts

Miracle of Life – Weeks 31st to 34th

Miracle of Life – Weeks 31st to 34th

Just as you do not know how the life breath enters the human frame in the mother’s womb, So you do not know the work of God, who is working in everything. - Ecclesiastes 11:5 Though we have spent weeks studying the intricate details of the weeks of pregnancy, there...

Monica’s Praise Report 8-23-23

Monica’s Praise Report 8-23-23

Praise be Jesus Christ!  Praise be His Holy name. May God be praised now and always, for He is God and wonderful is He and worthy to be praised. Thank You God for your providence. Thank You for your guidance and teachings. Thank You for your involvement in our lives....

Who do you say that I am?

Who do you say that I am?

He said to them, "but who do you say that I am?" Simon Peter said in reply, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Jesus said to him in reply, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father." -...

The Prayers God Always Answers

The Prayers God Always Answers

When I was a child, my mother bought a book called “The Prayers God Will Always Answer.” I remember my anticipation as I cracked the spine and turned to the first page. I had been spending a lot of time asking God — begging God, actually — over and over again for some...

The Choice of Stewardship

The Choice of Stewardship

What does it mean to be a good steward? Does it mean to be an active parishioner, or something more? Are we better stewards because we give more in terms of our money and time to our parish, or are we called to do even more than that? The truth is that stewardship is...

Encourage Deeper Understanding of Scripture

Encourage Deeper Understanding of Scripture

August 27, 2023 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time Isn’t it a bit weird that Catholics call the Pope “papa,” father? This Sunday provides us with essential Scriptural background on the papacy, the petrine office. Jesus gives Peter the “keys to the kingdom of heaven,” after...

God and the Good Strong Wind

God and the Good Strong Wind

My only real memory of the Mackinac Island ferry was the physical sensation of the wind against my face. I remember, distinctly, that it hurt. It surprised and confused me because wind had never felt painful before. Looking back now, I realize that it wasn’t just the...

Miracle of Life – Weeks 27th to 30th

Miracle of Life – Weeks 27th to 30th

Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him. - Psalm 127:3 Children are a gift. They turn young women and men into mothers and fathers. They push us to see life differently, to focus on what matters and to seek for the things eternal in a search...

He is Calling

He is Calling

A Reflection on the Gospel for the 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time, August 13, 2023 Gospel: Mt 14:22-33 A man at my parish was struggling to overcome a habitual sin. He said to me, “Father, I know the chance that I will commit sin again is really high. Why should I keep...

Feast of the Transfiguration

Feast of the Transfiguration

A Reflection on the Readings on the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord, Sunday, August 6, 2023 First Reading: Dn 7:9-10, 13-14 Alleluia: Mt 17:5c Second Reading: 2 Pt 1:16-19 Gospel: Mt 17:1 The Book of Daniel may appear to be prophetic in nature, but it is...

Local Angels

(Our Sponsors)

For more information on how to showcase your business and sponsor this site, please send us an email.

Only 6 2 spots available, first come first served! One sponsor per industry.


View a calendar of upcoming events

Our History

Learn the history of our Parish

Clergy and Staff

Meet our clergy and staff members!

How to Become Catholic

Interested in becoming Catholic?

Sacred Heart Catholic Church

Mass Times

Sunday 10 am

Weekend Mass Times

Saturday Vigil

5:00 pm | 7:00 pm SP


7:30 am | 10:00 am | 12:30 pm SP | 3:00 pm SP | 5:30 pm

Contact Info

109 North Frazier St.
Conroe, TX, 77301


Follow Us On

Join Our Newsletter!