How Often Must I Forgive?


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I hope you are enthusiastic about our new series at the Sunday Masses this new academic year.  As Pope John Paul II said many times who I am and what am I living for is one of the fundamental questions of life.  This question drives our actions, our relationships and the things that we value.  Often many of these values can be very temporary and also do not answer fully the question of who I am.  God is the one who tells you who you are.  He created you, designed you, made you the first born or the second in the family.  He gave you certain parents, brothers and sisters and many other things.  And he says something to you that is very simple and very important: you are mine.  I called you and chose you for something very great.

This week he gives us a beautiful gospel to show us that a huge part of who we are is the ability to forgive.  Last week the gospel encouraged us to go to the other person who hurt you or sinned against you.  Give him the benefit of the doubt.  Reconcile with him or her.  Now we hear the question: how often do I need to do this?  What’s the answer?  Seven times seven is the number of times we need to forgive.  What does that mean?  Seven is always a perfect number in the Bible so seven times seven means an infinite amount.  Yes, I need to forgive my spouse, my kids, my parents always.

Then Jesus gives an example about the kingdom of God and he says that it is like a king who began to settle accounts with his servants.  The first servant owed a huge amount, millions of dollars in those days.  The king after the servant begged for mercy forgave the loan.  He does not ask for conditions nor does he hesitate.  He forgives the loan and sends him on his way.  What God has forgiven you and me we can never repay!  Calculating 10,000 talents by the normal day’s wage at that time meant the man would have to work over 2,000 years to repay this debt.  He can never do it.

However, this servant when he encounters his servant who owes him a very tiny amount, a few hundred dollars, he has no mercy and demands payment immediately and throws him into prison.  When the king hears of this he is very angry and hands him over to the torturers.  A Christian community always has to be a community that forgives.  Jesus says the same thing will happen to you when you do not forgive your brother from your heart, very strong words!  Jesus calls us to look at this dimension of who we are.  Do I forgive easily or does it take me a long time, years?  Do I ever ask for forgiveness?  Ask for this gift of forgiveness so that you can truly let go of the things.