Today’s first reading from Daniel 3 contains one of the most beautiful and heartfelt prayers in all of Scripture. It is the prayer of Azariah, while he was in the fiery furnace. Take some time today to read it over; to pray the prayer with Azariah. I think you’ll be touched.
In the Gospel reading from Matthew 18, Peter asks Jesus, “How often must I forgive? As many as seven times?” Jesus replies, “Not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” Some translations render it “seventy times seven times.” Of course, Jesus means that there should be no end to our forgiveness, just as there is no end to God’s forgiveness. But what’s in a number? I want to offer a different perspective today. I would say that we need to only forgive once. Controversial? Let me explain.
Maybe you’re familiar with the concept of living in the present moment. It is something that I have struggled with all my life. This is my contention about forgiveness. If we think about having to forgive someone who has hurt us or offended us over and over again, 490 times even, it can easily overwhelm us. God, I just can’t do that! And God says, okay, fine. Can you forgive just this one time? And that’s all we need. If anger and resentment and bitterness rear their ugly heads again somewhere down the road, even a few seconds later, then all we have to do is forgive right then. Just once. Try it today. Forgive, just once.
Father, give us the grace to forgive, just once, just for now. We thank you in Jesus’ name. Amen.