Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.
“Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.” Matthew 18:21-35
I have two weddings this weekend, one as celebrant and one as a guest. We will see all sorts of friends and family over the weekend. It always puts me in mind of forgiveness, and how forgiveness is such a part of staying in love, staying friends and staying family. We are bound together, and as humans we often hurt each other with such veracity it seems that we can never recover. But God is in the midst of all the times and places where we do forgive, making new life from the ashes and the scars.
Peter asks a question about forgiveness and Jesus tells a story in response. We have all been in a situation where the person who we have forgiven refuses to forgive us and exacts extreme payment and abuse on our tolerant heads. And yet, Jesus reminds us that we are to forgive over and over again, with no limits. Forgiveness is what makes life sweet and renewable. Forgiveness is what makes us life bearable, when we forgive others and when we forgive ourselves. And forgiveness is a life long pursuit, a life-long practice.
Today I ask God to help me forgive myself for all my shortcomings and failures and to forgive others for theirs. We are humans together, struggling to grow in love and compassion. May God grant us the eyes to see others with the tenderness and kindness of God, who looks on us as lost sheep and aching children. May we practice forgiveness in every moment so that the world might feel and know God love and presence today.