Thursday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time – Mass Readings of Today
Today’s Audio Mass Readings – Lectionary: 416
1st Reading – JOS 3:7-10A, 11, 13-17
The LORD said to Joshua,
“Today I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel,
that they may know I am with you, as I was with Moses.
Now command the priests carrying the ark of the covenant
to come to a halt in the Jordan
when you reach the edge of the waters.”
So Joshua said to the children of Israel,
“Come here and listen to the words of the LORD, your God.
This is how you will know that there is a living God in your midst,
who at your approach will dispossess the Canaanites.
The ark of the covenant of the LORD of the whole earth
will precede you into the Jordan.
When the soles of the feet of the priests carrying the ark of the LORD,
the Lord of the whole earth,
touch the water of the Jordan, it will cease to flow;
for the water flowing down from upstream will halt in a solid bank.”
The people struck their tents to cross the Jordan,
with the priests carrying the ark of the covenant ahead of them.
No sooner had these priestly bearers of the ark
waded into the waters at the edge of the Jordan,
which overflows all its banks
during the entire season of the harvest,
than the waters flowing from upstream halted,
backing up in a solid mass for a very great distance indeed,
from Adam, a city in the direction of Zarethan;
while those flowing downstream toward the Salt Sea of the Arabah
Thus the people crossed over opposite Jericho.
While all Israel crossed over on dry ground,
the priests carrying the ark of the covenant of the LORD
remained motionless on dry ground in the bed of the Jordan
until the whole nation had completed the passage.
Responsorial Psalm – PS 114:1-2, 3-4, 5-6
When Israel came forth from Egypt,
the house of Jacob from a people of alien tongue,
Judah became his sanctuary,
Israel his domain.
The sea beheld and fled;
Jordan turned back.
The mountains skipped like rams,
the hills like the lambs of the flock.
Why is it, O sea, that you flee?
O Jordan, that you turn back?
You mountains, that you skip like rams?
You hills, like the lambs of the flock?
Alleluia – PS 119:135
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Let your countenance shine upon your servant
and teach me your statutes.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel – MT 18:21–19:1
Peter approached Jesus and asked him,
“Lord, if my brother sins against me,
how often must I forgive him?
As many as seven times?”
Jesus answered, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.
That is why the Kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king
who decided to settle accounts with his servants.
When he began the accounting,
a debtor was brought before him who owed him a huge amount.
Since he had no way of paying it back,
his master ordered him to be sold,
along with his wife, his children, and all his property,
in payment of the debt.
At that, the servant fell down, did him homage, and said,
‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back in full.’
Moved with compassion the master of that servant
let him go and forgave him the loan.
When that servant had left, he found one of his fellow servants
who owed him a much smaller amount.
He seized him and started to choke him, demanding,
‘Pay back what you owe.’
Falling to his knees, his fellow servant begged him,
‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’
But he refused.
Instead, he had the fellow servant put in prison
until he paid back the debt.
Now 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 you your entire debt because you begged me to.
Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant,
as I had pity on you?’
Then in anger his master handed him over to the torturers
until he should pay back the whole debt.
So will my heavenly Father do to you,
unless each of you forgives his brother from his heart.”
When Jesus finished these words, he left Galilee
and went to the district of Judea across the Jordan.
Catholic Daily Reflections
You Wicked Servant!
“‘You wicked servant! I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to. Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant, as I had pity on you?’ Then in anger his master handed him over to the torturers until he should pay back the whole debt. So will my heavenly Father do to you, unless each of you forgives his brother from his heart.” Matthew 18:32-35
That is definitely NOT what you want Jesus to say and do to you! How frightening to hear Him say, “You wicked servant!” And then to have Him hand you over to the torturers until you pay back all you owe for your sins.
Well, the good news is that Jesus deeply longs to avoid such an awful confrontation. He has no desire to hold any one of us accountable for the ugliness of our sins. His burning desire is to forgive us, pour out mercy, and wipe the debt away.
The danger is that there is at least one thing that will keep Him from offering us this act of mercy. It’s our obstinacy in failing to forgive those who have wronged us. This is a serious requirement of God upon us and one we should not take lightly. Jesus told this story for a reason and the reason was that He meant it. We can often just think of Jesus as a very passive and gentle person who will always smile and look the other way when we sin. But don’t forget this parable! Don’t forget that Jesus is serious about obstinate refusal to offer mercy and forgiveness to others.
Why is He so strong on this requirement? Because you cannot receive what you are not willing to give away. Perhaps that doesn’t make sense at first, but it’s a very real fact of the spiritual life. If you want mercy, you must give mercy away. If you want forgiveness, you must offer forgiveness. But if you want harsh judgment and condemnation, then go ahead and offer harsh judgment and condemnation. Jesus will answer that act in kind and severity.
Reflect, today, upon those powerfully piercing words of Jesus. “You wicked servant!” Though they may not be the most “inspiring” words to reflect upon, they may be some of the most useful words to reflect on. We all need to hear them at times because we need to be convinced of the seriousness of our obstinance, judgmentalness and harshness toward others. If that is your struggle, repent of this tendency today and let Jesus lift that heavy burden.
Lord, I do repent of my stubbornness of heart. I repent of my harshness and my lack of forgiveness. In Your compassion please do forgive me and fill my heart with your mercy toward others. Jesus, I trust in You.