It is a key element of Jesus’s teaching in the Sermon on the Mount “Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy” (Matthew 5:7). On the other hand, Saint James reminds us that “Those who act without mercy shall be treated without mercy” (James 2:13). These two statements go to the heart of this week’s message as found in both the first reading and the gospel. The first reading from the book of Sirach urges us to avoid seeking vengeance, to forgive injuries done to us and to avoid all manners of hateful actions. For how could mortals who are doomed without the mercy of God refuse to show mercy? The parable of the merciless servant, which I alluded to last Sunday, represents in the most glaring terms, God’s attitude toward those who act without compassion. In some ways our actions represent those of the merciless servant who, having received the mercy of the master, even though undeserving of it, refuses to act mercifully toward a fellow servant. What is important to learn from this gospel passage is that the things which we are required to forgive our neighbor are so infinitesimally little compared to the huge amounts of our transgressions that God overlooks each day. The utter hypocrisy and the ingratitude of the merciless servant were so brazen that his fellow servants, who had seen him request for and receive mercy from their master, were disgusted by it. How could he act with such meanness toward a neighbor having received so much grace from the master? Or how can we continue to enjoy God’s grace while being ourselves unwilling to be equally gracious to our neighbor even in the minutest of issues. The grace which we receive is both a privilege and a responsibility to act in a manner that honors our God and father who is always kind and merciful, slow to anger, rich in compassion and steadfast in His love for us, Amen.