How many times???

Posted by James Hahn on

Thursday August 17th
Matthew 18:21 – 19:1
Since I have two younger brothers this Gospel passage always makes me smile. In the previous passage Jesus told Peter and the disciples that if “your brother sins against you go and tell him his fault between you and him alone.” This is all well and good if he sinned against someone else or you see him partaking in sinful behavior. However, when the sin is really against you, and you have confronted him about it, and he asks for forgiveness, how many times must he be forgiven?

I can easily imagine Peter and Andrew arguing even while they walk with Jesus from town to town. That’s just the way brothers are. I can almost see Andrew start to say something to Jesus when Peter poses his question, “how many times do I have to forgive him?” And I can also imagine the smiles on Jesus’ and Andrew’s faces when Jesus replies to Peter.
This again is another hard teaching. It is one of those teachings that remind me of Jesus’ divinity. No mere mortal man would come up with an answer like this one. Jesus tells me that I must forgive unto infinity. My fallen nature desires a limit. My sinfulness wants to forgive a certain number of times and no more! But God desires that we imitate His mercy and His mercy is infinite.

Jesus knew that this would be a hard teaching for me and for his followers so he adds a parable that gently reminds us all of the forgiveness we have received. My debt is, humanly speaking, unpayable and yet Jesus forgave that debt by paying the price on the Cross. My chose lies clear. I must imitate the master and show the same mercy to all that He has shown to me. Quid retribuam Domino pro omnibus quae retribuit – how can I repay the Lord for all he has done for me? By showing mercy!

- Force yourself, if necessary, always to forgive those who offend you, from the very first moment. For the greatest injury or offence that you can suffer from them is as nothing compared with what God has pardoned you. – Saint Josemaria Escriva

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