LORD, HOW OFTEN MUST I FORGIVE?
Tuesday of the Third Week of Lent
My dear encountered couples:
“Peter approached Jesus and asked him, ‘Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him, as many as seven times?” Jesus answered, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.’” (Mt 18:21-35)
Over and over and over again: that is how many times we are to forgive. We may think we are a forgiving person but, in reality, we hold a grudge or harbor a hurt for years. True forgiveness sets ourselves and the other person free. An unforgiving heart binds and restricts us. We are not really happy if we refuse to forgive.
Hurts and sad experiences are part of our lives on earth. It was what prompted Peter to ask the question, “Lord, how often must I forgive him?”
Wars are waged and atrocities have been committed because people refuse to forgive. Families sometimes do not speak to one another. People even take a turn at refusing to forgive God at times, when confusion and great suffering visit them.
Jesus was one of us in all but sin. He understood the struggle of the human heart to forgive. He spoke often of our need to forgive and to ask for forgiveness. He imaged God as a loving and forgiving Father Who would not turn anyone away. Jesus himself forgave from the cross. Following the Resurrection, Jesus spoke words of peace and forgiveness to those who had deserted him. He gave the power to forgive sins to those who would follow him as priests.
Lent is a good time to revisit forgiveness. As we honestly evaluate our relationship with God, ourselves and others, areas of an unforgiving heart may be revealed to us. We may see sinful patterns in our own lives and take a step in changing them.
How often must we forgive if we are a follower of Jesus Risen? Like the Energizer Bunny, over and over and over again!