Then Peter came and said to Jesus, “Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.
“For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. When he began the reckoning, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him; and, as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, together with his wife and children and all his possessions, and payment to be made. So the slave fell on his knees before him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And out of pity for him, the lord of that slave released him and forgave him the debt. But that same slave, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and seizing him by the throat, he said, ‘Pay what you owe.’ Then his fellow slave fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ But he refused; then he went and threw him into prison until he would pay the debt. When his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place. Then his lord summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked slave! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. Should you not have had mercy on your fellow slave, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his lord handed him over to be tortured until he would pay his entire debt. So my heavenly Father will also do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart.” Matthew 18:21-35
We are having a Thanksgiving meal today, and I made the pumpkin pie last night. I kept dreaming that the cat crept down stairs and licked the pumpkin out of the pie. Of course, in my dream I was unable to move or do anything about the errant cat, who just kept devouring the pie over and over. I wonder if I would have forgiven her if the dream had come true.
Some translations of this story report that Jesus said seventy seven times and others say seventy times seven. However the number is reported, we find ourselves, as the disciples did, instructed to let go of anger and to forgive, over and over again. The number of times to forgive is meant to seem impossible. We are to just keep forgiving, since we are forgiven. To live and thrive we must forgive, not holding on to the hurt and moving beyond the pain and the brokenness we cling to. God invites us today, as we are surrounded by family, or as we find ourselves alone in these holidays, to practice intentional forgiveness until it becomes second nature.
Today, I ask God to give me the strength and resolve to practice forgiveness with everyone, especially those close to me. May we practice forgiveness until it fits us all so comfortably that those around us know us by our compassion and forgiveness.