Daniel 3:25,34-43

25 Then Azariah stood and offered this prayer; in the midst of the fire he opened his mouth and said: 34 For thy name’s sake do not give us up utterly, and do not break thy covenant, 35 and do not withdraw thy mercy from us, for the sake of Abraham thy beloved and for the sake of Isaac thy servant and Israel thy holy one, 36 to whom thou didst promise to make their descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as the sand on the shore of the sea. 37 For we, O Lord, have become fewer than any nation, and are brought low this day in all the world because of our sins. 38 And at this time there is no prince, or prophet, or leader, no burnt offering, or sacrifice, or oblation, or incense, no place to make an offering before thee or to find mercy. 39 Yet with a contrite heart and a humble spirit may we be accepted, as though it were with burnt offerings of rams and bulls, and with tens of thousands of fat lambs; 40 such may our sacrifice be in thy sight this day, and may we wholly follow thee, for there will be no shame for those who trust in thee. 

41 And now with all our heart we follow thee, we fear thee and seek thy face. 42 Do not put us to shame, but deal with us in thy forbearance and in thy abundant mercy. 43 Deliver us in accordance with thy marvelous works, and give glory to thy name, O Lord! Let all who do harm to thy servants be put to shame; 

Matthew 18:21-35

21 Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven. 23 “Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. 24 When he began the reckoning, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents; 25 and as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. 26 So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ 

27 And out of pity for him the lord of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. 28 But that same servant, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and seizing him by the throat he said, ‘Pay what you owe.’ 29 So his fellow servant fell down and besought him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ 30 He refused and went and put him in prison till he should pay the debt. 31 When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place. 32 Then his lord summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you besought me; 33 and should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ 34 And in anger his lord delivered him to the jailers, till he should pay all his debt. 35 So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”



THE FIRST READING is an intercessory prayer that seeks God’s mercy to spare three jewish men: Shadrach, Meschah and Abednego who faced death for refusing to submit to King Nabuchadnezzers demand that they worship his man made golden image. 

Azariah enumerates a liturgical lamentation on behalf of the three men seeking God’s mercy that these three men who were about to be thrown into a “burning fiery furnace,” will be delivered from the clutches of death! Most strikingly Azariah requests that these three men be considered to be sacrificial offerings (vv39,40) in this doxological sacrificial prayer! 

St MATTHEW narrates our Lord’s response to Peter’s question of how many times we ought to forgive one another to be reconciled to God. Acts of cleansing such as washing oneself (Isa 1:16) and rituals such as putting on ashes or the tearing of garments and fasting were OT examples of a ‘salah’ to express a contrite heart and seek God’s forgiveness. Sacrificial offerings by the temple priests were the normative way to restore mans unity with the divine God.1 Sam 16:2

Our Lord responded with a story that mirrors the first reading of today except that in this instance an individual who sought mercy from his master and who were forgiven, refused to offer the same measure of forgiveness to someone who owed him money. This story illustrates what Catholics refer to as purgatory which means to purge or make pure or clean that which is stained or tainted. The Catechism: 1030 “All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven.”

Paying the last penny is a metaphor that expresses God’s limited conditional patience with the believer who died in a state of God’s grace, but with the stain of venial sin. We cannot enter heaven afflicted with venial sin therefore it stands to reason that we undergo a process of purification as by fire.Jude 1:20-25 Conversely those who died through acts of mortal sin will suffer in the eternal fire! We who have committed acts of mortal sin are invited to the confessional, the court of God’s mercy, Forgiveness and Justice, rather than testing His patience by refusing to forgive others!Our desire to be raised up on the last day, is conditioned on our willingness to forgive those who injured us! Furthermore, you and I can offer a Holy Mass- a Sacrifical intercession- for our loved ones who died imperfectly in God’s grace and pray that they may not be lost! 

LET US PRAY: Psalms 25:4-9

4 Make me to know thy ways, O LORD; teach me thy paths. 

5 Lead me in thy truth, and teach me, for thou art the God of my salvation; for thee I wait all the day long. 

6 Be mindful of thy mercy, O LORD, and of thy steadfast love, for they have been from of old. 

7 Remember not the sins of my youth, or my transgressions; according to thy steadfast love remember me, for thy goodness’ sake, O LORD! 

8 Good and upright is the LORD; therefore he instructs sinners in the way. 

9 He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way. 

Catholic Witness Apostolate             catholicwitnessct@gmail.com    Henry R SYLVESTER              

Note: The daily scripture readings are taken from the Roman Missal which the Catholic Church use in the daily Celebration of the Holy Eucharist throughout the world.Some weekly readings may differ because of the celebration of local feast days of saints around the world.

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