How Often, Lord?

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While most folks know about the parting of the Red Sea, many don't know that the Lord stopped the Jordan river from flowing so that the people could cross on dry land. We see that story in today's first reading from Joshua 3.

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.

Today’s Readings

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  • Carl: August 14, 2021

    Yes, we are to forgive – but we also have a responsibility to ourselves to not be taken advantage of and become a doormat for abuse.

    Something I learned from a wise woman (who had the victim of sexual abuse) was the forgiving someone for a wrong they have perpetrated on me is not the same as condoning the act. It made a huge difference for me in helping me to forgive.

    God Bless!

  • Carl: August 14, 2021

    Dear Alan,

    Maybe I misunderstood your comment, but I don’t think they are the same. Forgiving someone over and over can, as Gus said, be a very trying thing to do – but that is what Jesus tells us.

    If someone has to keep apologizing for the same thing, I would have to question the sincerity of their apology. If I wrong someone, I believe that part of my apology is to do my very best to never do it again. (At least that’s what my wife said!)

  • Alan Stefanowicz: August 12, 2021

    Gus, I suppose the same would hold true for an apology.

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