If there are two conditions available, namely, being lucky or being blessed, how would you like your life to be? And why? Luck is not unimportant. I had a bad luck last month. The sun roof of my car was seriously damaged by the fallen tree on the day of typhoon No 10 signal. If I parked my car slightly left, I would definitely avoid the bad luck. Luck comes and goes on its own, and it is absolutely brought by chance. We have no obligation to give thanks to the so-called god of luck, for good luck is never consciously designed and there is no guarantee to have good luck again. Unlike luck, feeling being blessed is to admit what we have had and achieved is graciously given. Being blessed does not exclude the role of our effort, but our effort alone would not make things realized. Being blessed reminds us that we are not entitled to, but we are given graciously. We give thanks for being blessed, and the feeling of being blessed makes us humbleness, thankfulness and graciousness to others. One common feature of these two conditions, namely, being lucky and being blessed, is that we are not entitled to, but they generate different attitudes toward life. Having this brief clarification of being lucky and being blessed, how would you describe your life, lucky or blessed? This is the concern of the gospel message today (Matt 18:21-35).
The gospel message today is about forgiveness. It is about how forgiveness is possible and significant in discipleship. In order to illustrate how and why seventy times seven times of forgiveness possible and necessary, Jesus illustrates it in the parable of the unforgiving servant. There are two features of this parable. First, the master cancels the debt of the servant. The amount is ten thousand talents. One talent is equivalent to 6000 denarii, and a daily wage of a laborer at that time is one denarii. It is unbelievable why the servant is so mean to his fellow, for 100 denarii is a very small amount in comparison to his debt of 6,000,000 denarii being cancelled. Second, we Christians have a belief of that the God anyway would forgive. This is partly true, for God’s judgment would come upon those abusing his graciousness. Abuse is not about not saying thank you, but to keep God’s graciousness to oneself and even preventing others to experience God's graciousness. This message of God's judgment is found in other passages of the Gospel of Matthew, such as, Matt 25. Now let us turn to the experience of the master and the servant in the parable.
How would the servant describe his experience of debt’s cancellation? I would say that he is inclined to see himself very lucky. He would say that he is lucky, for he meets a relatively compassionate master. If the master is mean and tough, he and his family would be sold, and never have a chance to have their own lives. He is lucky, for the master has a good mood. If the trial is taken on another day and the mood of the master is bad, his debt would not be easily cancelled. He is lucky, for the master has a very good income from other sources, and so, he can bear the loss of 1000 talents. Feeling being lucky blinds the servant to see that the debt cancellation is a gracious deed of the master. Since it is a matter of luck, the slave politely says thank you, but not whole-heartedly. Since luck is purely a chance, the slave is hoping that the good luck would remain in his life as long as possible. This explains that he does not see any problem not to cancel the debt of his fellow. His fellow has a bad luck, and what his fellow needs is to have a good luck as his.
For the master, his cancellation of the debt is a deliberate act, not arbitrary. First, the master consciously and voluntarily gives up the right of entitlement. It is absolutely right for the master to request the servant to settle the account, but he chooses not to exercise his right. Second, the interest or the benefits of the servant is taken into account and is given a high priority. This is not about how goodness the servant is, but the goodwill of the master for the servant. Third, the cancellation of the debt is unconditional. It is free, but free is not equivalent to cheap. It is true that many free gifts are cheap, but this is not applied to grace. The love and care provided by our parents to us is unconditional and free. This is precious, not cheap. The master would not consider his act a gracious act, and it leaves to the recipients to articulate the act of the master. One of the significant features of feeling being blessed is to give thanks what you have received, and more importantly, to be a graceful person, to be gracious to your fellows.
The major difference between feeling being lucky and being blessed is that you can’t choose to make your life more lucky, but you can learn and choose to see your life as being blessed. Seeing your life as a blessing helps you to create a greater inner capacity to be gracious to your fellows and even to forgive seventy times seven. Does it imply we have to avoid good luck? Definitely no. If it comes, welcome it. If it goes, let it be. Luck comes and goes on its own. But what we can be is to live in the midst of good and bad luck with a grateful heart to God and graceful heart to our fellows. This is what being blessed brings to life.