Day 17: Risking Unconditional Forgiveness

BY FR. JOSÉ DUEÑO, SJ | March 1st, 2024
Today’s readings

Today’s readings lend themselves to a meditation on forgiveness. Forgiveness is a gift that God gives us, but it is also a task that is ours to do.

The First Reading tells us the story of how Joseph was sold by his brothers. At the end of the story in Genesis, Joseph forgives them, but it was a long and painful process for Joseph to get to that point.

Today’s Gospel is the parable of the wicked tenants. In this parable, we see how the owner of a vineyard sends his servants to collect his fruit. One by one, each of these servants is killed or rejected by the wicked tenants. Finally, the owner sends his son, and he is also killed.

This parable presents us with a God that never ceases to reach out to us in order to draw us closer to him. The question then becomes: how do we respond to God’s initiative? 

Bringing these two readings together, we could say that God is always offering the gift of forgiveness. Like Joseph, we may have experienced some deep betrayal by those we love and trust. Like Joseph, it may also take a long time for us to finally forgive. 

I did part of my Jesuit formation as a videographer at America Magazine. In one assignment, I helped to produce a short documentary on Mark Singel, a former lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania. During his time in office, he pardoned a convict who then went on to murder someone else. When we asked him about this case during our interview with him, he said that he did not regret this decision. The reason he gave was, essentially, that being closed off to the possibility of mercy should not be our default position in this world. What about those who truly atone? What about those who really deserve a second chance?

How have you responded in the past to an experience of betrayal, no matter how big or small?

How might you be called to choose mercy over cold indifference in your life?

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