When Peter asks Jesus how many times he should forgive sins against him, “up to seven times?” Jesus replies, “not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”
The world is full of grievances. Every person has experienced offences or ‘sins’, either as victim or perpetrator. The wounds are real and often very deep. In the throes of grief, our minds sometimes descend into depression or sometimes, into thoughts of revenge. To do that is to perpetuate the cycle of sins without granting any balm for the pain. Christ would have us forgive each time. Many theologians have preached about it–yet most admit that it is extremely difficult to actually do. The cliché is ‘forgiveness is necessary but forgiveness does not mean to forget’.
To forgive grants relief to the perpetrator. It also benefits those granting that forgiveness, or ‘mercy’, with gaining some healing and closure to the wounds. If one thinks about it, haven’t we humans often offended God – even ultimately having participated in the death of Christ? God has demonstrated his regard for us by showing great restraint and mercy time and time again.
This parable is meant to say that God forgives all of us who ask, absolution for our many sins. We then should do the same for those who hurt us – no matter how badly we have been hurt or how much we ruminate on revenge.
Marcia Fellows has been a member of Trinity Cathedral for eight years. She is a Lay Eucharistic Minister, a Lay Reader, and a member of the Altar Guild.