Proper 19A Pentecost 15; Matthew 18:21-35; 9/13/20
Trivia question: Do you know the bitterest substance on the face of the earth? Denatonium benzoate better known as Dentrol or Bitrex. Denatonium benzoate in a solution of ten parts per million is unbearable to human taste buds.
The heart of people with long carried resentment becomes dark and the bitterness that spews from them is like tasting denatonium benzoate.
Ten parts per million isn’t much of a ratio.
It’s like .001 of a percent. That’s all it takes for resentment to darken our life.
Resentment is like putting a backpack on and carrying around 100 pounds of lead.
Not only is the weight intolerably heavy, but the chemical contamination from lead poisons weakens the body and soul. Charles Dickens’ character, Scrooge, would be an example of one who is poisoned by resentment.
Those whose hearts are unforgiving bring on their own agony and spreads that agony to others. I am reminded of memories of working in a crisis mental health center of clients brought up by police who hadn’t bathed or changed clothes in over a month. The stench would permeate the whole floor. Resentment can carry the similar stench.
The king, after discovering his servant’s failure to show mercy to others after he himself received mercy from the king, reveals the perils of not forgiving. It’s not that God is going to hold sentence over us for not forgiving. No.
Spiritual law reveals that when we hold on to resentment and fail to forgive another, we are creating a state of hell for ourselves. I don’t know if you’ve ever known anyone who has held resentments over an extended period of time. They’re not much fun to be around.
One of my favorite quotes that returns to my memory comes from St. Benedict: Every day we begin again. God has already forgotten our transgressions and so Benedict is urging us not to keep hanging on to them. Resentment blocks us from living in the present moment. Learning from our faults is one thing. Dragging them around is another.
God does not withhold forgiveness like the hypocritical servant who showed no mercy or compassion to others. Seventy time seven: An infinite number.
Seven and multiples of 7 for the Hebrew represent wholeness and a sense of being complete.
Forgiving completes our soul, reuniting the lost pieces of ourselves that resentment scatters. God is always available to relieve human suffering by entering our suffering with us—the way Jesus did it. Jesus went to hell and back for us. All we have to do is open the door when he knocks and the agony we carry will be removed from us, restoring us to our blessed Union with God.