How Often are we Required to Forgive?

Have you ever tried to impress someone by your generosity, only to find out that you miserably missed the mark? Well St. Peter can relate. He thought he was being big-hearted by offering to forgive his brother up to seven times in a row for a transgression (Matthew 18:21-35).

Seven is the perfect number, so it should have been the perfect answer, right? Not so, when you compare it to God’s mercy and forgiveness towards us. And that is Good News, for God absolves us just as the master pardoned the first servant—in full!

We’re grateful God forgives us, and because He does so often, we may come to expect it. But are we as willing to excuse others as often as we’ve been exonerated?

How many times have we acted exactly like the Unforgiving Servant when we feel we’ve been insulted or harmed?

Think of an irritating neighbor, a jealous family member, an ungrateful child, or a thoughtless stranger. Do we truly forgive them?

Perhaps it’s hard for us to pardon because we don’t quite believe God has really forgiven us? If so, we need healing prayer and perhaps a spiritual director.

But, now it’s our turn to show our gratitude to God by imitating his generous mercy toward us. That’s what he’s demanding in return.

For if we don’t, what does Jesus warn? He will hand us over to the torturers until we pay back the whole debt!

He could be explaining purgatory; for there we become debt-free, but only through suffering as we are purged from all we cling to. Or could it be hell? For if we won’t forgive, neither will Our Father forgive us.

To play it safe, let’s think twice before we huff off holding onto a grudge. God’s not punishing us; rather, He’s generous in explaining the rules ahead of time.