One of the greatest sins there is, I think, is the sin of not letting go. And, if we’re honest, I think we all do it, all the time. I know I do. Whether it’s an long-standing argument with a loved one, or a touch of road rage, or demanding what we think we’re entitled to have, we can be real good at holding on to things. It’s pretty much the original sin: as soon as Adam and Eve found out they couldn’t have the forbidden fruit, they couldn’t let go of it until they had it. The reason I think it’s the greatest sin is that this is the sin that doesn’t let God in: when we’re grasping on to things, we’re not reasonable; when we’re grasping on to things, we can’t let go and let God be God.
Today’s Gospel parable is about the danger of not letting go. The servant had no reason to expect his master to forgive his debt. He had, in fact, run up that debt, and it was his to pay. The problem is, he could never pay it. The master had every reason to turn him over to be imprisoned for the rest of his life, or until he paid off the debt, whichever came first. But the master was moved with pity and didn’t just give the servant more time to pay up, but instead he wrote off the debt in its entirety.
One would think that the servant would be so overjoyed, that he would forgive others the same way. But he isn’t. He comes across a fellow servant who owed him a paltry sum, and hands him over to be imprisoned until he can pay the debt. So naturally, the master finds out and revokes his own mercy. If that servant had just let go of what he was holding on to, he would have been more than alright. But he couldn’t do it.
The debt we owe to God is ridiculously large; we’ll never be able to repay it. But we don’t have to because through the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ, our debt has been forgiven. In its entirety. We can’t be like the wicked servant. The joy that we have in celebrating our forgiveness in this Eucharist has to help us to let go of what we are hanging on to, or it’s no help to our salvation.
Maybe we can pause today as we offer our gifts and offer to let go of something so that others can be set free too.