Forgiving ‘seventy seven times’ when once seems impossible


Forgiveness is the basis of our faith. Divine Mercy is the source of our salvation. Religion, theology, or asceticism, without forgiveness is a desert of empty activity. Yet, forgiveness is a paradox simultaneously freeing, and bitterly challenging.

For forgiveness is the thing we most cherish. Nothing, literally, enlivens us more, spiritually, emotionally, and physically, than the forgiveness of our sins in sacramental confession, and in the forgiveness bestowed upon us by another person in an act of reconciliation.

Yet, like the unforgiving steward in Jesus’ parable, we find it so hard to forgive others of the sins they commit against us. And when we reflect on this honestly, we have good reason to find it hard to extend to others.

Think about it. Setting aside for one moment Jesus’ Merciful Passion and death, and the amazing grace of forgiveness we experience in the generosity of others, let’s look at forgiveness from a purely human perspective.

We are wounded. We have fears, and anger, and we live in a world that is very unforgiving for the most part. We see ‘forgiveness’ meted out unjustly. For the very talented and beautiful, forgiveness is quick. For the less gifted, and less beautiful, transgressions must meet punishment. Quite often, God seems so silent that it is deafening. And the world goes on as if nothing has gone wrong. With the passing of time we build resentments, and fight many wars, with imaginary ‘paper tigers’ in the transgressors of our past. Recreating new wars as we project past sins on new personal encounters.

It’s amazing at all that anyone forgives anyone in this world.

But they do!

And this is because the grace of God, in Jesus Christ, overcomes our fears, and our anger, and our hurt, and heals us through prayer, and sacramental confession, and in the Eucharistic presence of Jesus, enabling us to experiment with extending forgiveness in real world encounters. Even to the point of acting charitable to new people on our path, overcoming the tendency to recreate ‘paper tigers’ in their presence.

With all that has been said so far, forgiveness still remains the thing we desire the most, and the thing that is the hardest for us to give to others. Regardless of our status on the ‘holiness scale,’ this remains true for everyone, to a greater or lesser degree.

And that is why we must rely on Jesus. For in Him alone do we find Divine Mercy.

God bless!

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