SIXTEENTH DAY OF LENT
Then Peter came and said to him, “Lord, if another sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times. – Matthew 18:21-22
Forgiveness in the “Justice Christianus” is often a slow acting process that teaches through a sequence of new beginnings. This process of continually applied forgiveness is how full reconciliation is ultimately achieved, a process of saving the sinner while executing justice upon the sin.
When I was a lad our family who listen to the radio, back then, a heavy floor model Philco radio with a round, glowing dial. It took a fine touch to tune that radio to a radio station. You would first turn the dial to the right and then to left, slowly repeating these steps until you centered in on the signal. No push buttons to zipped you to the clear signal, but rather the moving the dial with ever finer sensitivity. And such it is with patiently applied forgiveness … slowly the repentant sinner “tunes in”.
Forgiveness is not so much about given someone a second chance, though that is a part of it. No, forgiveness is more about restoring a life to its proper place on the dial, that finely tuned place where the Divine goodness is found.
So when Peter asks if seven times to forgive is more than enough chances to give someone, he misses the point of forgiveness completely. Forgiveness in the “Justice Christianus” is about changing of the course through ongoing course correction.
Forgiveness is not a one-time thing, nor even a seven-time thing; it is an ongoing process of salvation.
Always in Christ’s Service,
Fr. Charitas de la Cruz