Forgiving without a limit

March 17, 2020 – Tuesday 3rd Week of Lent

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Peter asked Jesus about how many times he should forgive. For the Jews a righteous man should forgive those who have hurt them for 4 times. But then Peter exceeded that and made it to seven. He thought he has more than enough. However, Jesus responded to him that not just seven times but seventy seven times. The number actually does not matter. What Jesus is saying is that, forgiveness has no limit.

Why is that? Why forgive without limit?

It is even so difficult to forgive even once especially when the person who have hurt us is someone we love and someone we trust. Most of our painful experiences are sometimes rooted from our relationships especially when we are betrayed or abused or deceived by our own friends or family members. 

The pain and suffering that come from those broken relationships create deep wounds in us. And will forgiveness be possible then? Yes, forgiveness will always be a call for all of us. 

Forgiveness is not really for the person who have hurt us but rather it is all about us. The pain that we endure will lead us to feelings of anger, hatred and bitterness.  When we linger to these they will lead us to a heart that seeks only revenge. This will become our tendency from our belief that by hurting the person back, our anger and hatred will be satisfied. But then we are all wrong because anger and hatred will never be satisfied by violence. Violence will only make us angrier, hateful and bitter person. The more we linger to our pain, anger and hate; they become a cycle that will never end. 

We will only create our own cycle of violence, revenge, anger and hatred. We will become prisoner of our own pain. All of these will only control our lives, our thoughts and actions towards others. We will never be free because we will try to avoid those who have hurt us and avoid occasions of meeting them. We will begin to become suspicious to our other relationships. We will be afraid of trusting others, of loving others again and even ourselves. We are afraid because we linger to that pain thinking that other people might do it again to us. And so, the cycle never ends.

Unless, we find forgiveness in our hearts that begins with accepting and embracing those painful experiences and go on with life, then, we will not be free. 

Remember, forgiveness will make us free. It will not erase the scar of betrayal or of abuse or of deceit in our life but we will be able to stand up, to wipe our tears and go on with life.

Forgiveness then is not about telling the person, that what he/she did was okay and pretend as if nothing happens. No! Forgiveness is to heal our wounded heart that will make us say to the person, “I forgive you not because of who you are but because of who I am” as the Dalai Lama said. It means that I choose to be free and at peace. I choose love and not anger and hatred. 

This is what Jesus is saying to us now and he wants us to forgive many times because a single unforgiveness will only make us prisoner of our own pain and hatred. Jesus wants us to be free and not prisoners of anger, hatred, and bitterness or of violence.

In this way, we may always find reconciliation with God and with those who have hurt us so that in return, we too shall also be forgiven by those we have hurt in one way or in many ways. Hinaut pa.

Jom Baring, CSsR


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