Forgive seventy-seven times!
Readings: 1st: Ez 12:1-12; Ps 112; Gos: Mt 18:21–19:1
This brief reflection was written by Rev. Fr. Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a Member of the Congregation of the Holy Ghost Fathers and Brothers (Spiritans). He is currently working with the Spiritan International Group of Puerto Rico & Dominican Republic. He is the Administrator of Parroquia La Resurrección del Senor, Canovanas and the Chancellor of the Diocesis of Fajardo-Humacao, Puerto Rico. For more details and comments contact him on: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Today is the Thursday of the nineteenth week of ordinary time. Today’s gospel, is a continuation of yesterday’s instruction of Christ to his disciples on reconciliation and conflict resolution.
Probably, moved by Christ’s instruction and his own internal struggles with the problem of forgiveness as most of us today, Peter asked him a very intriguing question: “Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him? As many as seven times?”
Obviously, it is not easy to forgive. This is because, certain grieves and pains continue to burn and hurt us like acid in the heart. However, the truth is that, the more one delays to forgive, they more one hurts oneself.
Peter’s question to Christ says a lot about what many of us think about forgiveness. How can I continue to forgive someone who continues to hurt me all the time? Someone who does not show any remorse for what he is doing to me.
Some people say, “I forgive, but I do not forget!” Indeed, it is neither easy to forgive, nor to literally forget, unless one loses one’s memory completely. However, rancor, agitation, malice, offenses, hatred make forgiveness and reconciliation more difficult.
Jesus answered Peter: “Not seven, I tell you, but seventy-seven times!” The number seven indicates perfection. In this case, it is synonymous with “always.” Hence, Christ’s response could be interpreted as, seventy times always.
Hence, through this, Christ eliminates any possible limitation to forgiveness. This means that, there is no proportion between the forgiveness we receive from God, and the that which we ought to give to others.
Christ illustrated this through his story about the king and his servants. Simply put, Since God forgives us all the time, we ought to forgive others all the time too.
Obviously, this is a very difficult one for all of us, but as Christ said to Paul, so he says to us: “My grace is sufficient for you” (2 Cor 12:9).
So, let us continue to ask Christ for his grace, to be able to forgive others. This will help us to heal fast from the injuries and pains we suffer daily.
Let us come to God in humility with all those burdens we bear in our hearts against one another, and ask him to heal us of all our injuries, disappointments, and pains.
Peace be with you.