Peter, being the impetuous student of the Lord, asks him how often do I have to forgive my brother or sister? Seven times? At the time, it was thought by the rabbis that three times was enough. Seven was also seemed to represent completeness. But Jesus shocks Peter when he demands forgiving seventy-seven times. Who could possibly do that? But that’s the point. Forgiveness isn’t something that is tracked on a scorecard. The goal of forgiveness is reconciliation. Until that is reached we need to keep on trying, whatever number of times. There is no limit, for our relationship with our brother or sister remains incomplete until we have reconciled.
Forgiveness begins in the heart. Unfortunately, so does wrath and anger. When we are wronged, and when it hurts, especially when it has long-term consequences or even changes our lives completely, it is difficult for the heart to make a complete turn from anger to mercy. But, as doctors will say, we need to nurture a healthy heart. When we hug tightly to wrath and anger, allowing them to fester into resentment or bitterness, we are unconsciously choosing to have an unhealthy heart. Forgiveness allows us to reconcile with the consequences of the action that hurt us as well as with the cause of that hurt. It allows us to heal the broken relationship with that person, with an apparently unfair world, and with a seemingly unjust God. At the end of our lives we believe we will be completely reliant on God’s mercy to forgive our many sins, great and small. Let us resolve to forgive our neighbor from the heart, to heal our relationships, and to live lives of kindness and mercy.
Love, Peace, Joy,