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?'
Two weeks ago, on Tuesday of the first week of Lent, the Lord taught us the "Our Father." One of the "Fathers" during the earliest days of the Church, Saint Cyprian, promoted this prayer for daily use:
What prayer could be more a prayer in the spirit than the one given us by Christ, by whom the Holy Spirit was sent upon us? What prayer could be more a prayer in the truth than the one spoken by the lips of the Son, who is truth himself? It follows that to pray in any other way than the Son has taught us is not only the result of ignorance but of sin. He himself has commanded it, and has said: You reject the command of God, to set up your own tradition. So, my brothers, let us pray as God our master has taught us.
This prayer is so important that we interrupt the flow of our Mass to recite it together. The scriptures tell us Jesus "took the bread, blessed it, broke it and gave it to his disciples;" but we stop for a moment between the blessing and breaking not only to recite this prayer but to leave our gift at the altar and be reconciled with our sisters and brothers.There is no Mass -- and no communion -- without this prayer.
Among its few words (56) and seven petitions are twelve cardinal words that make our fellowship real, "forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us." Without the practice of daily forgiveness, there is no Church.
If it were possible this reconciliation would be habitual but I fear the life of the spirit never becomes habitual. We can recite the prayer habitually. We can meditate on them often. But we cannot expect this readiness to apologize, atone, and be reconciled to become routine. It's too important for that.
Rather, we intentionally seek conciliation and reconciliation with the same attentive spirit that drove Jesus from Galilee to Jerusalem to Calvary to Easter.
Today's parable must remind us of how critically important forgiveness is to our Church and each Christian's personal salvation. The "wicked servant" suffered grievously for his callousness, and few would pity him. But our lives are full of misunderstandings, slights, insults, rudeness and occasional, intentional meanness. As a comment on the Lord's Prayer "the wicked servant" reminds us to take very seriously the beautiful opportunity of every "trespass."