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, "I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times. That is why the Kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who decided to settle accounts with his servants. When he began the accounting, a debtor was brought before him who owed him a huge amount. Since he had no way of paying it back, his master ordered him to be sold,
along with his wife, his children, and all his property, in payment of the debt.
At that, the servant fell down, did him homage, and said, 'Be patient with me, and I will pay you back in full.' Moved with compassion the master of that servant let him go and forgave him the loan.
When that servant had left, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a much smaller amount. He seized him and started to choke him, demanding, 'Pay back what you owe.' Falling to his knees, his fellow servant begged him, 'Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.' But he refused.
Instead, he had him put in prison until he paid back the debt.
Now when his fellow servants saw what had happened, they were deeply disturbed, and went to their master and reported the whole affair. His master summoned him and said to him, 'You wicked servant! I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to.
Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant, as I had pity on you?'
Then in anger his master handed him over to the torturers until he should pay back the whole debt.
So will my heavenly Father do to you, unless each of you forgives your brother from your heart."
Today’s Gospel reading highlights an essential element of our faith: forgiveness. Jesus tells us that we are called to forgive always. The person who holds a grudge and refuses to forgive is weighed down and burdened. Just as God is merciful to us, we are called to be merciful and forgiving to all those we encounter. We must let go and allow God to work in us.
Christ’s message of forgiveness is a message of freedom but we have to want to be free. Forgiveness is ultimately a choice. God has given us free will and we must exercise that in order to find the freedom we so desperately seek. In order to truly forgive we must unite ourselves to God through prayer, because we know that we cannot do it on our own. Prayer becomes the dialogue of love where God communicates His strength to us through the power of the Holy Spirit. It is the same Spirit who breathes the divine life in us. Armed with the Spirit of God, we are able to overcome our weaknesses and forgive others.
Christ came to liberate us. Our hope is Christ, who shows us that we must pray for those who harm us and by doing so we not only liberate them, but ourselves in the process. Today, think of the things you may be holding on to or the person in your life that you need to forgive, and make the choice to fully forgive them. Ask God to give you the strength to let go of what is hurting you and allow His grace and peace fill your heart.