How often must I forgive?

Published August 11, 2022, 12:05 AM

by Manila Bulletin


Jesus’ hyperbolic answer to Peter’s question reveals God’s attitude towards sinners. To forgive “seventy-seven times” connotes unlimited number. It runs contrary to the unlimited blood-feud retaliation in the case of Lamech who said, “If Cain is avenged seven times, then Lamech seventy-seven times” (Gn 4:24). The principle of “law of talion,” that is, an “eye for an eye”-code of justice was ordered to prevent excessive punishment. Justice demands equal and proportionate compensation. But God’s ways are different from man’s. The parable of a king who forgives his servant a huge amount teaches that God’s forgiveness is super abundant, “limited” only by our unwillingness to forgive one another.

First Reading • Ez 12:1-12
The word of the Lord came to me: Son of man, you live in the midst of a rebellious house; they have eyes to see but do not see, and ears to hear but do not hear, for they are a rebellious house. Now, son of man, during the day while they are looking on, prepare your baggage as though for exile, and again while they are looking on, migrate from where you live to another place; perhaps they will see that they are a rebellious house. You shall bring out your baggage like an exile in the daytime while they are looking on; in the evening, again while they are looking on, you shall go out like one of those driven into exile; while they look on, dig a hole in the wall and pass through it; while they look on, shoulder the burden and set out in the darkness; cover your face that you may not see the land, for I have made you a sign for the house of Israel.
… Then, in the morning, the word of the Lord came to me: Son of man, did not the house of Israel, that rebellious house, ask you what you were doing? Tell them: Thus says the Lord God: This oracle concerns Jerusalem and the whole house of Israel within it. I am a sign for you: as I have done, so shall it be done to them; as captives they shall go into exile. The prince who is among them shall shoulder his burden and set out in darkness, going through a hole he has dug out in the wall, and covering his face lest he be seen by anyone.

Source: “365 Days with the Lord 2022,” St. Pauls, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 632-895-9701; Fax 632-895-7328; E-mail: [email protected]; Website: