Jesus replied, “Not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” He then went on to tell the parable of the servant who owed a large debt to his master, but had not repaid the debt.
The Master, filled with compassion, forgave the debt. But later, the servant did not exercise forgiveness when another servant owed him a debt.
Much of today’s homily was focused on forgiveness. Many people believe forgiveness is about giving someone a pass on work or letting them slide on a task that was done improperly or, in the example above, a debt that was not repaid. Another example could be “a sin against my brother.”
But actually, we do not forgive the other person.
Forgiveness is for us.
Because, to forgive is to let go of the resentment, the hurt (and often times the anger) which WE carry in our heart about the “problem.” Isn’t it true that when we are “hurt” by a sin committed against us, or some wrong-doing… aren’t we the ones who feel the hurt?
So, forgiveness is not about releasing the other party, forgiveness is about letting go of all the negative baggage, the bad feelings and the hurting emotions we punish ourselves with and carry around like a sad sack. Forgiveness can be a positive exercise… for YOU.
Wouldn’t you feel better if a problem was wiped off your slate? This is what Jesus is telling us to do. When someone wrongs us in some way, do not carry that badge of pain: let it go and move on. Forgiveness is about you beginning your own healing, and being in a better position to help others.
Now Jesus wraps up his parable by reminding Peter and the Apostles about what happens when we don’t exercise forgiveness. The Master later heard the servant had not forgiven another servant who also owed him a debt. Jesus concluded by stating “…so will my heavenly Father do to you, unless each of you forgives your brother from your heart.”