Tuesday of the 3rd Week of Lent I
29 March 2011
St. Lawrence Catholic Campus Center at the University of Kansas
Jesus instructs Peter to forgive many times over, and from the heart. Obviously, Jesus describes forgiveness in the kingdom as distinct from a one-time superficial forgiveness. It is not enough to tell another person don't worry about it, it's no big deal. No, we are to forgive each other from the heart. Too often, the forgiveness we give another person is not true forgiveness, but a decision on our part to move away from that person, to limit the opportunity that they would have to offend us again. Too often our forgiveness comes with a healthy dose of judgment.
Jesus describes forgiveness in the kingdom as altogether different. When someone offends us, we must forgive them 70x7 times, and from the heart. When someone sins against us, we are to become more interested in that person, and in the pain, brokenness or emptiness in their soul that gave rise to the sin. In the kingdom, don't worry about it is not good enough; no, we must forgive from the heart, by giving the person true mercy that loves the person beginning at their most unlovable point, a mercy that sets a person free to be different.
This is a forgiveness that does not originate with us, but is poured into our hearts, most notably in the sacrament of confession. Jesus is ready to forgive us 70x7 times in the sacrament of penance; indeed, many of us will commit and confess the same sin at least that many times. In the sacrament, Jesus doesn't tell us it's no big deal; his mercy is there to heal us and to free us from the inside out. Yet we celebrate the sacrament at our own risk; the sacrament comes with a responsibility. It is not just a get out of jail free card; it obligates us to know and to live the mercy we have received by loving our enemies, not in a superficial way, but over and over again, and from the heart.
JMJ AMDG +m