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Since 1732, the Redemptorists — a congregation of missionary priests and brothers — have followed in Jesus’ footsteps, preaching the Word and serving the poor and most abandoned.
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Lenten reflection, day 18

Scripture readings for today: Deuteronomy 3:25, 34-43; Psalm 25; Matthew 18:21-35

How many times must I forgive another? Peter’s question is one that we all ask at one time or another.

In the Gospel today Peter wants to know how many times he should forgive a brother who has sinned against him. He is willing to go as high as seven times. Jesus’ answer tells Peter to stop counting. Then He tells this story, which, as is often the case with Jesus’ parables, is marked by an extravagance of numbers and details. The Gospel concludes, “Unless each of you forgives your brother and sister from your heart, the Father will not forgive you.”

In our own lives I am sure there exist sufferings that have been imposed on us: childhood abuse, spousal abuse, deep rejection. When we bring these sufferings to Jesus, we must be honest and first of all acknowledge that we have been sinned against. Then we must quietly tell the Lord, “I forgive the person who has committed this injury.”

We should not be afraid of our emotions. The important thing is to say these words, perhaps in prayer with another person. In this way the movement of our heart will share in the infinity of God’s own mercy.

And finally we must repent of any anger that has been in our own heart. In this way we can come to experience the wonderful freedom of knowing how much we are forgiven so that we can lift this burden also from another person (with thanks to Francis Martin’s book The Fire in the Cloud [Charis Books, 2002]).

Father Charles Hergenroeder, C.Ss.R.

Download our 2015 Daily Lenten Devotions booklet here.