From today’s lectionary reading in Matthew, imagine Peter looking thoughtfully at his two hands and silently reckoning, “Seven is more than half of my fingers and twice as many times as the Rabbis say; that’d be pretty generous!” But, no. Seventy times seven! That’s Jesus’s answer to Peter’s query about how many times he should forgive a member of the church who sins against him.
A number hard for the mind to visualize. Can you picture 490 apples, horses, or candles in a row? I hear Jesus telling me NOT to count, or even notice, how often I forgive, but to “Just DO it!” Over and over. Make forgiveness part of my nature, how I walk and breathe in the world. As God has mercy on me, for my many things done and left undone. Selfishness, willfulness, anger, pride, bitterness.
Jesus goes on to tell Peter that the kingdom of heaven is like a king settling accounts with his slaves. The first slave owed a thousand years of wages, begged mercy, and the king forgave all. Yet, that same slave did not forgive the day’s wages owed him by a fellow slave, but rather threw him in prison until he paid. Upon discovering the first slave’s heartlessness, the now angry king handed him over to be tortured until he paid his entire debt. Jesus closes the parable, “So my heavenly Father will also do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”
Today I pray, Lord…
Help me to be honest about how unforgiven grievances weigh on and torture me.
Create in me patience and new perspective toward anyone whom I perceive has slighted me.
Show me new paths of thought and ways of the heart, even when this vulnerability makes me nervous.
Open my eyes to your constant mercy on me.
Elizabeth Cavert Morrison
Links to the appointed readings and prayer for today: