Today while reading the Gospel of Matthew 18:21-19:1 I had to marvel at how Jesus teaches us our Faith through Parabels and namely in this parable, believe it or not….Purgatory. Protestants don’t believe in Purgatory and its because they say it is not in the Bible. It is true they do not have all the books that we as Catholics have, , but, everyone has the Gospels and here is an example of Jesus teaching us about Purgatory.
Then Peter went up to Jesus and said, ‘Lord, how often must I forgive my brother if he wrongs me? As often as seven times?’
Jesus answered, ‘Not seven, I tell you, but seventy-seven times.
‘And so the kingdom of Heaven may be compared to a king who decided to settle his accounts with his servants. When the reckoning began, they brought him a man who owed ten thousand talents; he had no means of paying, so his master gave orders that he should be sold, together with his wife and children and all his possessions, to meet the debt. At this, the servant threw himself down at his master’s feet, with the words, “Be patient with me and I will pay the whole sum.” And the servant’s master felt so sorry for him that he let him go and cancelled the debt.
Now think about this…..Jesus is telling us basically how God works here in regards to our sins and namely forgiveness. He begins by telling us that the debt is enormous and by written accounts of theologians, there is no way anyone would be able to pay that amount back in their entire lifetime.
According to one source, the Carmelite Order, “ten thousand talents were equal to 350 tons of gold. Even if the debtor and his family would have worked their whole life, they would never have been capable to earn 350 tons of gold. The extreme estimate is made on purpose. Our debt before God is countless and unpayable!”
What I am getting at here is how in the world can anyone even attempt to pay back their debt if they are in prison? Jesus is basically letting the man know that if he does not pay his debt, he will be thrown into prison. What is this debt….in reality it is our sins. The amount Jesus talks about in terms of money is huge. Our sins are huge and we simply do not have the means of paying it all back. The man begs for mercy. The King gives His mercy (which is Jesus). When we ask Jesus to forgive us our debt is wiped away instantly. This is where confession comes in. We go to confession and ask for forgiveness. Through the instrument of Priests, Jesus forgives us and gives us a Penance to atone for those sins. If we are sincere and do our penance which is so little, everything is wiped away and we are cleansed. It is that simple.
If you notice, the king does not have mercy on this man UNTIL the man asks for Mercy. We too must ask God for mercy, don’t expect it without asking for it.
But, what if we don’t ask for forgiveness or do not forgive others…..what is this prison Jesus is talking about. The Prison Jesus is talking about here is Purgatory. If we should die with the debt of sins on our soul, we are being told we will go to prison. When you are in prison you are unable to pay for your debts, so someone else would have to pay that debt….correct?
That is exactly what our Faith teaches us….those in purgatory are unable to pray for themselves or help themselves while in Purgatory. They can pray for us, but they can’t pray for themselves. We are taught we must pray for the souls in Purgatory in order for them to be released. Purgatory is a place of atonement for our sins. The person who is in Purgatory will suffer to atone for their sins. There are a number of ways for us to atone for our sins here on earth. Scripture states that “Those who honor their father atone for sins, they store up riches who respect their mother” (Sirach 3:3-4), also, “As water quenches a flaming fire, so almsgiving atones for sins” (Sirach 3:30). Our prayers, sacrifices and sufferings atone for sins. So two things: Asking for forgiveness and then atoning for those sins will spare you prison time once you die.
Now as this servant went out, he happened to meet a fellow-servant who owed him one hundred denarii; and he seized him by the throat and began to throttle him, saying, “Pay what you owe me.” His fellow-servant fell at his feet and appealed to him, saying, “Be patient with me and I will pay you.” But the other would not agree; on the contrary, he had him thrown into prison till he should pay the debt.
His fellow-servants were deeply distressed when they saw what had happened, and they went to their master and reported the whole affair to him.
Then the master sent for the man and said to him, “You wicked servant, I cancelled all that debt of yours when you appealed to me. Were you not bound, then, to have pity on your fellow-servant just as I had pity on you?” And in his anger the master handed him over to the torturers till he should pay all his debt. And that is how my heavenly Father will deal with you unless you each forgive your brother from your heart.’
Jesus had now finished what he wanted to say, and he left Galilee and came into the territory of Judea on the far side of the Jordan.
And in his anger the master handed him over to the torturers till he should pay all his debt. And that is how my heavenly Father will deal with you unless you each forgive your brother from your heart.’
So Jesus is being very clear here. He is telling us that our debts must be paid before we can even think about getting to Heaven. He is handing us over to the torturers (Purgatory) until all our sins are atoned for. Often times, in God’s great Mercy, He will allow many trials and sufferings for us here on earth which we can use to atone for our sins. All we need to do is accept each of those trials and sufferings, offer it to Him for those in Purgatory, for ourselves, for those we are praying for etc. All is used for atonement of not only our sins but the sins of others and those in Purgatory.
If you struggle believing this, I would say only one thing: Go ask Jesus and He will let you know. When we sincerely search for Truth, the truth will be found because Jesus wants us to know Truth. He has always let me know the truth when I have come to Him with sincerity…..and this means letting go of your own ideas and thoughts on the matter so that He can fill your heart with truth.
God Bless Everyone.