Now PETER CAME TO JESUS AND ASKED, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” But Jesus answered:
“I do not say to thee seven times, but seventy times seven.”
And He related the parable of the Unmerciful Servant, illustrating the need of forgiving our fellowmen.
“This is why the kingdom of heaven is likened to a king who desired to settle accounts with his servants. And when he had begun the settlement, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. And as he had no means of paying, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. But the servant fell down and besought him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will pay thee all!’ And moved with compassion, the master of the servant released him, and forgave him the debt.
“But as the servant went out, he met one of his fellow-servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hold of him and throttled him, saying, ‘Pay what thou owest.’ His fellow-servant therefore fell down and began to entreat him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will pay thee all.’ But he would not; but went away and cast him into prison until he should pay what was due.”
“His fellow-servants therefore, seeing what had happened, were very much saddened, and they went and informed their master of what had taken place. Then his master called him and said to him, ‘Wicked servant! I forgave thee all the debt, because thou didst entreat me. Shouldst not thou also have had pity on thy fellow-servant, even as I had pity on thee?’ And his master, being angry, handed him over to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him. So also My heavenly Father will do to you, if you do not each forgive your brothers from your hearts.”
Meditation: Peter thought he was being generous in suggesting “seven” as the number of times he should forgive offenses against him, for “seven” was commonly used to indicate a considerable number. But Christ’s answer, “Seventy times seven,” represents an infinitely greater number. Peter’s question can be on our lips often. For we, too, frequently find ourselves overlooked, slighted, offended, even outraged by others. And Christ’s answer to Peter is meant for us also. We must always forgive; for the true follower of Christ the measure of forgiveness is inexhaustible.
Information from The Life of Christ “Our Lord’s Life with Lesson in His Own Words for Our Life Today” The Catholic Press, Inc. 1959. 119-120. © 1954 edited by Reverend John P. O’Connell, MASTD and Jex Martin, following mainly A Chronological Harmony of the Gospels by Stephen J Hartdegen OFM NIHIL OBSTAT John A McMahon; IMPRIMATUR Samuel Cardinal Stritch, Archbishop of Chicago August 1, 1953. Print. Drawing by Albert H Winkler.