Parables of Jesus
At that time, Peter approached Jesus and said to him: "Lord, how many times will I have to forgive my brother if he sins against me? Up to seven times?" And Jesus answered him, "I do not tell you until seven, but up to seventy times seven.
In this regard, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to come to terms with his servants. The accounts began, one was presented to him who owed ten thousand talents. However, since he did not have the money to repay, the master ordered that he be sold with his wife, children and what he owned, and thus repay the debt. Then that servant, falling to the ground, begged him: Lord, have patience with me and I will give you everything back. The master let him go and pardoned his debt. As soon as he came out, that servant found another servant like him who owed him a hundred coins and, seizing him, choked him and said: Pay what you owe! His companion, falling to the ground, begged him, saying, "Be patient with me and I will pay you back the debt." But he did not wish to fulfill it, he went and had him thrown into prison, until he had paid the debt. Seeing what happened, the other servants were saddened and went to tell their Master all about what happened. Then the master called that man and said to him: An evil servant, I forgave you all your debt because you prayed to me. Were you not also to have pity on your companion, just as I had pity on you? And disdainfully, the master handed him over to the torturers until he had returned all his money. Thus also my heavenly Father will do to each of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart."
Previously, Jesus had spoken of the importance of forgiveness and the need to know how to welcome brothers and sisters, to help them reconcile themselves with the community (Mt 18.15-20). Faced with these words of Jesus, Peter asked: "How many times must I forgive the brother who sins against me? Up to seven times?" The rabbis taught that one had to forgive three times (three is a symbol of "holiness and love" towards God, for this reason every prayer in Judaism is often repeated three times) and Peter, believing he is generous, proposes to forgive seven times (seven is the number that in Judaism symbolizes completion in the relationship with God, perfection.
Jesus answered him: "I do not tell you up to seven, but up to seventy times seven." The expression "seventy times seven" is a clear allusion to the words of Lamech, who said: "I killed a man for my scratch and a boy for my bruise. Seven times Cain will be avenged, but Lamech seventy-seven" (Gen 4 23-24). Jesus wants to reverse the spiral of violence that has entered the world due to the disobedience of Adam and Eve, to the killing of Abel by Cain and to the vengeance of Lamech: when unbridled violence invades life, everything goes wrong and life becomes disintegrates.
The example he uses to make people understand this concept is very acute: "In this regard, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to come to terms with his servants [...] Start the accounts, he was introduced to one who owed him ten thousand talents ". In the East even the governors of the larger provinces were called servants of the king; it can therefore be assumed that this debtor was a great official of the State: he could for example be a satrap who, by dint of abuse of power, had succeeded in defrauding the public treasury of a large sum; the ten thousand talents of the time would in fact be comparable to six billion euros today, but the debt of this servant is here to represent the debt with God, his then and ours today.
However, since he did not have the large sum to be repaid, the master ordered that he, his wife, children and all that he owned be sold, in order to pay off his debt. The ancient laws of the East allowed the creditor to render or enslave the insolvent debtor, to confiscate all the substances including his wife and children. But that servant, assailed by the panic and terror of the fearsome future that lay ahead of him, fell to the ground and pleaded: "Lord, have patience with me and I will give you everything back. Pity the servant, the master let him go and condoned him the debt"; Matthew, after reporting the teachings of Jesus on how to help the sisters and brother sinners to reconcile themselves with the Law, now reports how Jesus wants them to be received when they prove repentant for what they have committed.
As soon as he came out of his conversation with his master, that servant, however, finds another servant like him who owed him a hundred denarii, a sum much smaller than his debt, equal to about ten euros today; despite this, he claims that he has returned all his debt, he feels no reason, he does not take pity in front of his debtor's pleas, he goes to report him and has him thrown into prison, until he has paid the debt. When the Master learns of what has happened, he cannot help but exclaim "An evil servant, I have forgiven you all your debt because you have prayed to me.
Were you not also to have pity on your companion, as I had pity on you? "With this question, he emphasizes the inhumanity of the servant and the justice of the sentence pronounced against his debtor: in the face of so much hardness of heart, the master is forced to follow the reasoning of his servant, to deny the pardon granted to him first and to give it to the torturers, until he gives back all his due. "So also my heavenly Father will do to each of you, if you do not forgive heartfelt to your brother".