Weekend Reflections for 9/15/17
Forgiveness is not a duty. It is a gift. A duty is regularly performed by our own strength. We don't have the strength to forgive. The sooner we admit that the better.
Peter approaches Jesus in this Sunday's Gospel and asks how often must he forgive the offense of his brother (poor Andrew :) Even seven times, a number of fullness? Jesus overwhelms him with his answer: "Not seven times but seventy-seven times" [or seventy times seven, as some translations have it]. Peter is rather deflated with the answer. He doesn't have that kind of forgiveness in him. Nor do we.
So Jesus proceeds to tell a parable outlining where one receives the ability to let go of the offenses of our brother/sister early and often. "A king decided to settle accounts with his servants...[and] a debtor was brought before him who owed him a huge amount." That debtor would be you and I, perfectly described here, before the King of kings.
The king, upon seeing our homage and our prayer for mercy, "...moved with compassion let him go...and forgave him the loan." THERE is the source of our mercy towards others! We have to receive it from God. We have to beg for it first. Then we will see our offending sister or brother with the eyes of God. Then we will experience God forgiving them through us.
Our obligation then is not to forgive others "seventy-seven times" by our own strength, but rather to beg God regularly for his forgiving strength to work in and through us toward the one who has offended us over and over. "Whatever you ask the Father in my name will be given you."