“Have patience with me,” the servant asks of the King. “Have patience with me,” begs the sinner to the Lord. “Have patience with me,” says the child to her mother, as her mother kneels to sop up the puddle of milk from the floor. “Have patience with me,” I say reluctantly to the reflection in the mirror.
The forgiven servant, shown mercy by the King, refuses to extend that mercy, instead having a man indebted to him for a lesser sum, thrown into prison until he pays back what is owed. We see the dire consequences of being unable to offer another forgiveness, when that same servant is jailed by the King upon learning of his unmerciful behavior.
In a sense, the servant has imprisoned himself by his actions. Is this not what we do to ourselves when we are unable to let go of the debts against us? The hardest mercy to accept seems to be the one due to ourselves. This is especially true with regard to forgiving myself of my mothering mistakes. God has forgiven my parenting horrors and missteps, yet I struggle to do the same. I imprison myself in guilt and regret.
Jesus concludes this parable with a clear directive. We must forgive others “from your heart.” We are called to a personal metanoia – a spiritual change of heart. The Church offers the most remarkable opportunity to receive the King’s clemency through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Contrition, the Catechism teaches, opens the penitent for “a radical reorientation of our whole life, a return, a conversion to God with all our heart.” A radical change to a merciful heart, once accepted and extended forward, is the key to our freedom from the jail of unforgiveness.
Dear Merciful Lord, fill my heart with the grace necessary to forgive as You forgive. Lord, I desire a radical reorientation of my heart that it may more closely resemble Yours.
Allison Gingras, founder www.ReconciledToYou.com (RTY); and host of A Seeking Heart on Breadbox Media weekdays 10 am ET. Allison created the “Words with” daily devotional App Series: Words with Jesus and Words with Mary. Allison offers retreats and talks on: Forgiveness; Works of Mercy; Trust and JOY!