How Many Times Must We Forgive Our Brother ?

Greetings Brothers and Sisters. The peace of the Lord be with you.

 In yesterday’s Gospel reading, Peter goes up to Jesus and asks exactly how many times one must forgive his neighbor who strikes him.

I think this is an interesting question. Why did Peter ask this of Jesus ? He asks because Jesus is trying to teach the apostles forgiveness as a way of life. As a matter of charity, and in doing so tells them that what ever they do not forgive here on earth, they will be treated the same way in heaven. Jesus answered Peter seventy times seven. which is not really a number of times you must forgive your brother or sister, but it is rather a statement of abundance. We need to forgive others always.

Not an easy task I would say. Too often that gets cut down to once if your lucky in todays world. Sometimes not even once depending on the mood the victim is in. Control of ones temper and indignation is controlled through maturity and discipline and yes, even occasionally through experience.

 Much like when we go to church and draw our spiritual nourishment from that center and take it out into the world, so too our domestic church should be ( literally the home where we live should also be considered our domestic churches).

If we are married, it should be from our marriage and our spouses that we also get our nourishment and rejuvenation from the outside world. These primary relationships should serve to make us stronger and indeed are the places where we learn the most about the people we are or at least wish to be. My mother used to say Charity begins at home, To a certain degree this is true. The basis for this thought is that we tend to learn a good deal of how we deal with life situations according to how our parents did, or at least as a place to start. As all children learn from watching their parents and then try to make adjustments to those ideas should they not suit our personality.

Charity is something we observe. in others first. Are we kind, are we forgiving, are we gracious or humble. all of these things we get initially by what we see or what we learn at home. Later in our adult lives we tend to emulate these lessons in the world. Unfortunately, its not always the good lessons we emulate. Our time in a car is a good place to reflect on that.

Do we forgive those who hurt us ? Do we forgive those who cause us harm ? Do we forgive anyone at all ? Prayer indeed goes a long way in our journey towards self reparation when we do not think we can forgive.

I find it also interesting that during my adult life there have been times when people have come to me and apologized for things that happened during high school.  Things that I did not even consider an issue, or that I was too busy with my own issues to worry about.     I have made at least one such apology myself.   That person also said to me that they did not remember the incident and never gave it much thought.     I had long ago forgiven alot of the things that now seem to trivial in retrospect.   I can tell you there is nothing quite so theraputic as reconcilliation, the same holds true for forgiveness.   Forgiveness is like smiles and hugs.. they are contageous.

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