Our Gospel today gives a clear self-explanatory presentation of the Christian teaching on forgiveness. Beginning with God’s treatment of us, Jesus makes an appeal for a similar Spirit of mercy among his followers. To Peter’s question of how often forgiveness should be extended, Jesus responds that it should be without limit. Seven is a perfect number; it’s multiples express the incalculable, seventy-seven times pointing to forgiveness that cannot be limited to a certain number of times.
The figure owed by the slave to the king is deliberately fantastic, amounting to the equivalent of $9 million, as opposed to the mere $200 owed to the slave by his fellow slave. The former is the recipient of pardon for hugely more than he is owed, therefore his spirit should be magnanimous because of his own experience. The implication for us as Christians is clear. Given the fact that we have already received God’s forgiveness through baptism and countless other moments in life, we are in a unique position to offer that same spirit to others. Are there people we are holding back from forgiving, demanding judgement by God on them, while we ask mercy from God for ourselves?