A Powerful Lesson Of Forgiveness Found In The Gospel Of Matthew 18:21-35

by Catholic Bible Studies And Reflections

The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”

Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.

“Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants.  As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him.  Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.

 “At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’  The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.

 “But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.

 “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’

 “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt.  When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened.

 “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to.  Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.

 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”

Matthew 18:21-35

Reflection On Matthew 18:21-35

In Matthew 18:21-35, we find a powerful lesson on forgiveness, a theme that resonates with mental health and emotional well-being. The passage tells the parable of the unforgiving servant who, after being forgiven a massive debt by his master, refuses to show the same mercy to a fellow servant who owes him a much smaller sum. The master, upon learning of this lack of compassion, condemns the unforgiving servant, emphasizing the importance of forgiving others as we have been forgiven. 

Reflecting on this passage, reminds us of the weight that grudges and unforgiveness can place on our mental health. When we hold onto anger, resentment, or bitterness, it’s like carrying a heavy burden that constantly weighs us down. These negative emotions can fester, leading to anxiety, depression, and strained relationships. 

Saint John Paul II once said, “To forgive is not to condone, it is to refuse to allow the past to dictate the future.” It is not about excusing or forgetting the harm done to us, but rather about liberating ourselves from our own negative emotions.

Forgiveness is an act of self-compassion; it allows us to free our minds from the torment of bitterness and to make room for healing and growth. In the context of mental health, forgiving others can be a powerful tool for reducing stress, anxiety, and depression. It does not mean that we ignore or minimize the pain we have experienced; instead, it means choosing to let go of the emotional baggage that comes with holding onto grudges. By doing so, we open ourselves to the possibility of inner peace and emotional well-being. 

In this passage, we learn that forgiveness is not just a moral obligation but also a path to emotional healing and mental freedom. By following the example of Christ, we can release the weight of unforgiveness and find solace in Saint John Paul II’s wisdom, allowing our past to guide us toward a healthier, more hopeful future.

Luke Brown, LPCC

Photo by Gus Moretta on Unsplash

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