Forgive seventy times seven

Good morning!

The gospel of today (Matt.18:21-19:1) reminds us of the biblical concept of forgiveness. Peter asks Jesus, “Lord, if my brother sins against me, how many times must I forgive him? As many as seven times?”. There are several numbers in the bible which are not meant to be taken literally, and seven is one of them.

According to the Book of Genesis, the creation story takes place over seven days. Now, while evolution has not been conclusively proven, it is not rejected as a possibility by the Catholic church. What is not negotiable is that God created the universe – HOW he created it still amazes even the scientists.

So the number Seven indicates an infinite but perfect amount. Jesus says to Peter that he must not just forgive infinitely but infinitely times infinite. In other words, just forget it. That’s tough sometimes, especially when the person that you want forgiveness from won’t give it! Or when you offer forgiveness that it is rejected!!

But it is not for us to hold a grudge or to drive someone to resentment. We pray in the Lord’s Prayer, “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” And in the words from the prayer of St Francis, “It is in dying that we are born to eternal life.” We cannot be humble and proud at the same time.

I sometimes speculate what it could be like with St Peter at the Pearly Gates when a holy person approaches and is turned away because someone is not at peace with them. That speculation, which is horribly flawed theologically, could see me doing a lot of return trips to St Peter. Or, even more interestingly, if you were put in charge of admissions when St Peter took a tea break, would you be able to turn anyone away? Because that would imply that they would have the right to turn you away too.

Fortunately for us, the love of God is beyond our comprehension and he wants us to be with him. The only person who can prevent that is ourselves! In eternity, we may be our own toughest judge.

Just something to think about…. Have an amazing day.

God bless and stay safe. Dc Mike and the team.

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