Fr Paul reads from the Gospel of Matthew (18: 21-35) in which Jesus tells Peter, ‘in order to forgive your brothers and sisters of their sins against you, you must forgive them not seven, but seventy-seven times’.

This is a favourite parable of Matthew, Fr Paul says, as it continues the theme of forgiveness which is the key to any Christian community. Matthew knows that we cannot live together without upsetting each other. There will be fights, there will be arguments, there will be disagreements, there will be quarrels. These can all happen deliberately or innocently and forgiveness is the vital step in making a relationship stronger.

This parable also strengthens the petition in the Lord’s prayer, ‘forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us’.

Furthermore, Fr Paul explains how Matthew uses contrast to make the point. We see through the contrast in the size of the two sums of money that is the debt of each of the servants and how this contrast is deliberate. The first slave owes millions of dollars, it is impossible to pay back and he has no chance of doing it, and yet he is forgiven. The second owes just a couple of months’ wages, and so by drawing this contrast, Matthew again places the emphasis on the importance of the act of forgiveness.

As our Lenten journey continues, Fr Paul encourages us to ask ourselves ‘has forgiveness been a part of my Lenten journey this year?’.