In today's Gospel reading from Matthew 18, Peter asks Jesus how often he has to forgive a brother who sins against him. As many as seven times?
Jesus responds, “Not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” You may have also heard this as “seventy times seven times.” In any case, Jesus is saying that there should be no end to our forgiveness. Jesus then goes on to tell a story of a man who was forgiven a great debt by the king, but then would not forgive a man who owed him a very small amount. The king did not take this well, and handed the man over to the torturers. Jesus then says, “So will my heavenly Father do to you, unless each of you forgives his brother from his heart.” Ouch!
We always have to remember that forgiveness is not an emotion. Like love, it is an act of the will. We may not FEEL like extending forgiveness to someone. And the more egregious the sin, the less we FEEL like forgiving. But forgiveness is not about how we feel. In fact, the act of forgiving is often in direct conflict with how we feel. We can’t really choose how we feel. But we can choose how we act. So no matter how difficult it may be, let us choose to forgive.
Father, you always forgive us, no matter how little we deserve it. Help us this day to choose forgiveness, no matter how badly we’ve been hurt. Amen.