“Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me?"

Reflections by Annette Roux, Retired Pastoral Associate

Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?”  “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!   Matthew 18: 21-22


Today’s Gospel exposes the roots of our unforgiveness.  There is a tremendous shift of consciousness required if one is to be a Christian.  It is realizing that your life is not about you.  In the deepest sense, we don’t belong to ourselves.  Everything we have and all that we are comes from God.  We are meant, with all of our gifts, to serve God’s purposes.  Our very existence comes from God, but so does the forgiveness of our sins.  If there is one thing that we can each claim of ourselves, it is that we are often cruel, vindictive, violent, insensitive, and self-absorbed.  The upshot is this: there is nothing particularly stable about the self, nothing that it can claim for its own.  All that it is received as a gift.  Well, what is at the root of the inability to forgive but this false sense of the substantial self?  You exist because of God and in order to serve the purposes of God.  How often do you forgive your neighbor?  Seven times?  No, I tell you seventy times seven times.  In other words, endlessly, constantly, without calculation.


Reflect: Think of the last time you had difficulty forgiving someone. How did your sense of your own "substantial self" make you hesitant to forgive?