The secret to a happy life (and it’s not what you think!)
Seventy-seven times. This is the number of times we must forgive others. In other words, forgiveness on our part is unlimited. The parable of the unforgiving servant relates to an earlier passage in Matthew’s Gospel which was about the Lord’s Prayer. If you forgive others, Jesus tells us, your heavenly Father will forgive you. If not … well, best not to dwell on that. As we read Matthew’s Gospel, we learn more and more about the secrets of the Kingdom of God. We are warned against the dangers of material wealth, the need to deny ourselves and — this Sunday — the absolute importance of the ability to forgive. Because God is generous and forgiving, we must be too!
Part of the “secret” of forgiveness is the fact that it is not the person you forgive that ultimately benefits, but you. The willingness to forgive is the secret to a happy life. Forgiveness lightens the load we carry in life. Without it, we drag around behind us a heavy load of resentment, anger and hostility. The surest test of authentic Christianity is in the willingness to forgive. It manifests the triumph of the grace of the kingdom over the ways of sin. The moral lesson of the parable of the unforgiving servant is to pass on to others what we are glad to receive from God. As we find in the First Reading, “Resentment and anger, these are foul things and both are found with the sinner” (Ecclesiasticus 27:33). In contrast, “the Lord is compassion and love, slow to anger and rich in mercy” (Psalm 103:8).