St. Margaret Clitherow
She was born in England in 1555. For hosting fugitive priests, she was arrested, imprisoned by authorities and condemned to be pressed to death on March 25, 1586. She was stretched out on the ground with a sharp rock on her back and crushed under a door over laden with unbearable weights.
Entrance Antiphon Cf. Ps 16: 6, 8
To you I call, for you will surely heed me, O God; turn your ear to me; hear my words. Guard me as the apple of your eye; in the shadow of your wings protect me.
May your grace not forsake us, O Lord, we pray, but make us dedicated to your holy service and at all times obtain for us your help. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
First reading: Daniel 3:25,34-43
Azariah stood in the heart of the fire, and he began to pray: Oh! Do not abandon us for ever, for the sake of your name; do not repudiate your covenant, do not withdraw your favour from us, for the sake of Abraham, your friend, of Isaac your servant, and of Israel your holy one, to whom you promised descendants as countless as the stars of heaven and as the grains of sand on the seashore. Lord, now we are the least of all the nations, now we are despised throughout the world, today, because of our sins. We have at this time no leader, no prophet, no prince, no holocaust, no sacrifice, no oblation, no incense, no place where we can offer you the first-fruits and win your favour. But may the contrite soul, the humbled spirit be as acceptable to you as holocausts of rams and bullocks, as thousands of fattened lambs: such let our sacrifice be to you today, and may it be your will that we follow you wholeheartedly, since those who put their trust in you will not be disappointed. And now we put our whole heart into following you, into fearing you and seeking your face once more. Do not disappoint us; treat us gently, as you yourself are gentle and very merciful. Grant us deliverance worthy of your wonderful deeds, let your name win glory, Lord.
Psalm 24 (25):4-6, 7a-9
R/ Remember your mercy, Lord.
1) Lord, make me know your ways. Lord, teach me your paths. Make me walk in your truth, and teach me: for you are God my saviour.
2) In you I hope all day long because of your goodness, O Lord. Remember your mercy, Lord, and the love you have shown from of old. Do not remember the sins of my youth. In your love remember me.
3) The Lord is good and upright. He shows the path to those who stray, He guides the humble in the right path, He teaches his way to the poor.
Gospel Acclamation: cf. Lk 8:15
Glory and praise to you, O Christ! Blessed are those who, with a noble and generous heart, take the word of God to themselves and yield a harvest through their perseverance. Glory and praise to you, O Christ!
Gospel: Matthew 18:21-35
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; but 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. “Give me time” he said “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 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. “Pay what you owe me” he said. His fellow servant fell at his feet and implored him, saying, “Give me time 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 him. “You wicked servant,” he said “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.’
Prayer over the Offerings
Grant us, O Lord, we pray, that this saving sacrifice may cleanse us of our faults and become an oblation pleasing to your almighty power. Through Christ our Lord.
Communion Antiphon: Cf. Ps 14: 1-2
Lord, who may abide in your tent, and dwell on your holy mountain? Whoever walks without fault and does what is just.
Prayer after Communion
May the holy partaking of this mystery give us life, O Lord, we pray, and grant us both pardon and protection. Through Christ our Lord.
Prayer over the People
O God, founder and ruler of your people, drive away the sins that assail them, that they may always be pleasing to you and ever safe under your protection. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Considering the biblical meaning of the number seven (perfection), Peter believes that to forgive someone seven times is to make a superhuman effort. But Jesus challenges Peter to forgive not just seven times but seventy-seven times, showing him that forgiveness is not limited at all. As a follower of Jesus he has to forgive unceasingly. The parable that follows shows how ungrateful we often become; we are forgiven but we are unable to forgive others in our own turn. The teaching of the Gospel is that, since God is graciously merciful and always forgives us, we should not withhold forgiveness and mercy from other people. We can only expect forgiveness from God if we forgive those who offend us.