Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Reflection: Matthew 18:21-35

Tuesday of the Third Week of Lent – Matthew 18:21-35

Today we have another challenging Gospel. Peter comes to Jesus and bluntly asks him how many times he needs to forgive another, be that his brother, his sister, friend or co-worker. Peter asks if he should forgive the other person seven times?  I wonder if Peter had a family member, a spouse,  or a friend whom he had wounded multiple times.   Or was Peter simply asking the question because he wanted to hear how Jesus would answer it?

As often is the case, Jesus does not answer Peter’s question directly. Rather Jesus bluntly tells Peter that he should forgive the other person, not just seven times, but 77 times.  That is a lot of forgiveness!  It is easier to forgive another if the hurt or insult is minor.  However, when a person has been betrayed or slandered us, we may find it more difficult to forgive the individual.  This is understandable because our trust has been betrayed.

Was Peter surprised by Jesus’ answer?  Was Peter thinking of a family member or friend that he needed to forgive or was he remembering someone he had hurt or wounded? Was Peter hoping that, at some point, he would be forgiven?

Hopefully, over time, we will forgive the person who wounded us and, in this process, we will free ourselves also of the heavy burden we have been carrying.  Lack of forgiveness usually has more effect on us than on the individual we need to forgive.  Resentment and anger poison us. True, it is not easy to let go of our anger and hurt.  If we can place our anger, hurt, and resentment into God’s hands, God will heal us.  It may take a long time.

The grace is Jesus does not expect us to deal with these hurts and resentments alone.   Jesus walks with us, encourages us, and gives us the grace to let go and to forgive those who have hurt us. We have to be patient with this process and we need to keep coming back to Jesus and asking him to help us forgive. Jesus wants us to ask him to free us of this burden, this pain. Jesus is with us and He will answer our prayers!

Today may we place all our burdens, our anger, and our pain in Jesus’ hands. This will lighten our loads immensely and will free us also.   Will we, do we, trust Jesus?

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