“Then Peter approaching asked him, “Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus answered, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.” – Matthew 18:21-22
Almost all of us know this story Jesus teaches us on forgiving our neighbors, and many of us probably abide by this. The issue comes in - what happens on offense 78? Any of us who live in this generation know that the people around us, loved ones, or maybe it’s that “one guy” that every class seems to have, can need our forgiveness 78 times in a week!
As it turns out most of us will live long enough to see that 78th offense and must be ready for it, for when we sit before the Lord on judgement day, that person’s “offense” is not something we answer for. We answer our reaction to it and how we carry it throughout our day. We will answer for the gifts God gave us and how we used them to love others.
This is not an easy thing to do. I for one find it extremely difficult to let things go and not continually ask, “Why are they like this?” or “Why do they treat other people like this?” or maybe the classic “Why do they always seem to have an opinion?”.
Forgiving people who do not deserve it is maybe one of the most difficult challenges God places before us. This is a scenario in which God did not build us for comfort but rather He built us for greatness. In this story above God does not say, “forgive only those who deserve it”, or “forgive only those who ask for your forgiveness”.
As with so many things in life as an adult, and many of us going out in to the real world know this too well, you will soon find out so many things about our Catholic faith is a decision. As an adult, away from the cradle of our parents we can gain our independence and make decisions for ourselves. We can decide what kind of person we want to be and how we want to treat other people.
If you want to be a jerk and abrasive to each person you meet, that is your right but you must be willing to answer for it.
If you want to be a gossip, and always have an opinion about someone else’s life, go right ahead, but again you must answer for it.
If you want to decide each morning to greet each day with a forgiving spirit and decide to forgive all who offend you, again you will answer for this.
All of us are RESPONSIBLE for the decisions we make and how we act daily.
I’ll leave you with a line from a book my brother Justin recommended me to read whenever I feel upset with the world. Now that he’s a Dad he feels he has some sort of “dad wisdom” or something. The book is called “The Traveler’s Gift” by Andy Andrews and I would highly recommend it to anyone who has the time.
“I will greet each day with a forgiving spirit. Knowing that any form of slavery is wrong, I also know that living my life according to the opinion of others is a slave. I have chosen my counsel with the Almighty, I know between right and wrong. No misguided opinion or unjust criticism will alter the course of my soul. For those with misguided opinion or offer unjust offense, seldom give thought to their offense, and therefore the reason we must forgive indiscriminately.”
Greet each day with a forgiving spirit. We must always be vigilant and be prepared to answer for our decisions.