Peter approached Jesus and asked him, “Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus answered him, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.”
Peter approached Jesus. Watch out Peter! Every time you approach the Lord, you’re always in for a big surprise. And this time was no different. Would it be different for any of us? Not at all. We are always in for a big surprise when we approach the Lord. I know that and you should know that too. I won’t even go so far as to say it’s a “pleasant surprise”. No, there is nothing pleasant about forgiving someone seventy-seven times. This is hard work.
Many of us would much rather prefer a gigantic bolt of some heavenly lightning striking down our offender; or the offender asking seventy-seven times for our forgiveness! Now, we’re talking!!!
A while back, I picked up a book by psychotherapist and Roman Catholic priest John Monbourquette, entitled: “How to Forgive, A step-by-step guide.” I won’t knock it, that much. But while reading this close to two hundred page manual, I felt overwhelmed. I mean, “Is forgiveness this complicated?” Would our Lord command us to do something without telling us how to do it? If the business of forgiveness is so darn complicated, then how in the world did our ancestors do it? How in the world did a group of ignorant fisherman teach it? I don’t think forgiveness is that complicated.
Step 1: Learn to Forgive by Seeking God’s Forgiveness. Many people have a hard time forgiving because they never take the time to be forgiven. When was the last time you went to confession? When was the last time you asked the Lord for the forgiveness of your sins; the same sins you have been confessing since your childhood? Confession is a great way to learn just how forgiving our God is and how incredibly patient He is! Has a priest ever told you in the confessional, “You did this again?!!!” “Give me a break! How many times must I forgive you for this!!” We know God's answer to our broken record: I forgive you seventy-seven times, and no one is counting.
The same holds true for love. A lot of people don’t know how to be lovely because most people never take the time to be loving. We all want to be loved and even adored. But do you know how to love and adore the Lord? Do you know how to love and adore your neighbor? The Lord will love you and even adore you. After all, he did die for you! But are you willing to do the same for him? For others? Do you realize how lovely you can be? It’s not that complicated. It doesn’t cost a lot of money to be lovely.
Love and God are the most frequently Googled words every year. Why? Because people don’t know God and they don’t know how to love. You can’t blame them. That’s two things our secular families and public schools don’t quite seem to know how to teach. And so our pagan kids have to look them up! And instead of looking them up in the Bible, they Google them! Poor kids! Poor families!
Animals are unforgiving: Bears strike and never warn. Lions kill and enjoy their kill. Raccoons steal; they do not barrow. Dogs copulate and their various partners don't mind (or think). Animals are unforgiving because the animal kingdom is unforgiving!
Men strike. Men kill. Men steal. Men are unfaithful when they become ungrateful. Men sin because they do not know how to give or forgive. But men can learn to forgive and give because God’s kingdom is very forgiving and giving.
The Lord's words are for the meek and humble of heart. Take a chance this Lent and climb the evolutionary ladder. Approach Jesus, He always loves to surprise!