«The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, ‘Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt» (Matthew 18:26, 27).
THE NOVEMBER MORNING WIND came in through the window while I was thinking about how I was going to manage to cook so many tamales. I decided to ask a neighbor who was also my friend for help. She said to me, «Of course, Patricia, I’ll gladly lend you my tamale steamer.»
That tamale steamer was my salvation. I put it on the stove and, almost immediately, someone knocked on the door. I went to open the door and calmly began a leisurely conversation, completely forgetting that the stove was turned on high and heating, not my pot, but my neighbor’s top-notch and expensive pot. When I returned, that severe heat had colored the pot’s flawless disk in hues of sunflower, yellowish, and . . . well, simply and definitely burnt. A chill went through my body when I stopped to think how expensive that pan was.
One week went by, then two . . . and my silence and I hid from the neighbor. I did not know how to face the situation, and I remembered that Bible passage in Matthew 18:23—25, the parable of the official who did not want to forgive. The official owed such a great debt to the king that he could not pay it even by selling himself as a slave along with his whole family. That man owed «ten thousand talents»; that was about 216 tons of silver. In Bible times, 80 pieces of silver were equal to the salary of 240 days, which allows us to guess that the poor man’s debt was simply impossible to pay: millions and millions of dollars today. However, that man begged the king, who decided to forgive him the debt. I received the same blessing from my neighbor, the pot’s owner. These were her forgiving words: «Patricia, some weeks ago, I borrowed a wheelbarrow from a neighbor and I damaged it, so I know how you feel. However, that man forgave me and did not allow me to buy him another, so now I want to forgive you.»
How wonderfi.il it feels to be forgiven! This experience really connects me with the reality of our spiritual debt: nothing we do could pay for the forgiveness that Jesus Christ offers us. We simply have to accept it and unreservedly forgive those who owe us something (Matthew 18:35). Sometimes what we need to do is forgive ourselves.