Peter approached Jesus and asked him, “Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive? As many as seven times?”
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by Father Greg Friedman, OFM
This week’s Gospel story is a favorite of mine. It’s a parable about forgiveness, but what I like is Peter’s question to Christ before the parable. You remember the question I’m sure: “Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive? As many as seven times?” Jesus of course, goes on to reply, “not seven times but seventy-seven times.”
Father Raymond Brown, the late American Scripture scholar, once commented on this exchange between Peter and Jesus. He observed that we perhaps are quick to criticize Peter for his stinginess in forgiving. What, only seven times, Peter?
Father Brown suggests that we all must examine our conscience. How often would you or I forgive an offense from the same person? I know that I would take all the pleasure and all the credit I could get from graciously forgiving that first offense. And when my brother offended me a second time, I sure would lay it on thick as I grudgingly forgave a second time.
But would I even entertain a third request for forgiveness? By then I suspect I wouldn’t even be speaking to my brother! Instead, I’d be telling everyone else how injured I was by such an ungrateful person–whom I’ve deigned to forgive twice before!
And what’s that Jesus? Did you really say 77 times?
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by Father Dan Kroger, OFM
• This week’s first reading (Sir 27:30-28:9) tells us: forgive your neighbor’s injustice, then when you pray, your own sins will be forgiven. The Lord’s Prayer (Our Father), says the same thing in different words. Can you remember them?
Does this saying about forgiveness seem to be a good thing to remember? Can you always remember this if your sister or brother hurts you?
• In the second reading (Rom 14:7-9, St. Paul reminds his readers that Christ died and came to life so that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living. Do you think some people live for themselves?
• In the Gospel (Mt 18:21-35), we hear Peter ask about his duty to forgive others. “How often must I forgive?” To Peter’s seven times, Jesus says “Seventy times seven.” How many times is that? Could you ever forgive your brother or sister seventy times seven?
Then Jesus tells a story about a king who wants to settle accounts with his servants. What is Jesus trying to teach by this long parable?
by Susan Hines-Brigger
• The Gospel talks about forgiveness. We all probably have someone in our lives who we either need to forgive or ask for forgiveness. Think about both and how you can achieve that forgiveness. It’s important to know, however, that we can forgive someone without having to interact with him or her. Choosing to forgive someone is a personal decision.
• Though it’s not quite the same as the example in the Gospel, forgive someone’s debt by paying for their meal or drink the next time you’re in the drive thru of a restaurant.