I heard once that forgiveness is one of the most powerful forces in the world. I have to think that the flip side makes it needed because guilt are pretty powerful as well. We need forgiveness. We crave it even when we do not know we are. If it is bad enough then in seeps into our guts and we do what we can to medicate it even with unhealthy means.
Bet getting out of that spectrum is being the one that has been wronged. We see someone that has wronged us and we want justice. We want them to get what they have coming to them. For those of us that get a taste of the beauty of the message of forgiveness, the question we then ask is, “How much is my limit?” It is a pattern that does not change over time.
And definitely it is a pattern that existed in the time of Jesus.
Matthew 18:21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”
22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.
Oh, come on! I have people I want to condemn! After they blow it seven times I can get on to cutting them off at the least!
Jesus blows out the paradigm of forgiveness rationing and other grace-exits by basically making it a non-stop part of life. It was a challenge to Peter as it is to us now.
But scripture tells us that we should forgive others just as God has forgiven you in Christ. But on the really gritty side, to extend God’s grace in forgiveness is assumed to be happening as a given with, “Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.” It’s presupposed by Jesus to be a given.
I may lose some of you at this next point: by the time that Jesus tells Peter this, he had established him as his first pope. What is a pope about? Fundamentally they are about managing things in His Church including sacraments like confession. That is giving freedom by the power of Jesus. Persona en Cristi. It is a powerful thing but all the more reason that Jesus does some formation in Peter because he was going to live as a sacramental sign for God’s forgiveness for much of his life.
But then there is a flip side for Peter too. Soon he was going to blow it. He was going to be the one who denied Jesus three times and would be racked with guilt. But Jesus forgave him too. He achingly needed it. As do we.