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Seventy-seven Times

August 12, 2020
August 13, 2020
PITIK-BULAG: Seventy-seven Times
Two things that make difficult for us to become Christian: To carry our daily cross and to forgive someone who wronged us. But to forgive someone without limit and without condition seems more challenging than the first one. There is a hidden desire for us to fight back and revenge. We want our offenders to feel the pain they brought to us. We desire to get even or even bring more pain. That’s the problem with revenge, it does not ease the pain but leads us to a deeper pain, darkness, hatred, and thirst for more revenge. We found ourselves trapped in the dark dungeon we created only to punish ourselves, but not our offender. Unfortunately, we forgot that the ONLY KEY TO FREEDOM IS FORGIVENESS.
All of us are struggling with forgiveness. It’s clear to us that our Lord wants us to forgive our enemies. But it’s not easy. It’s hard to let go. Our ill-mind wants revenge. Thus, it takes a lot of grace and guts to forgive someone without getting even.
In our gospel today, Peter knew that Jesus was very loving and forgiving. When he asked the Lord how many times should we forgive, he quickly answered his question with “seven times.” He wanted to set a limit. Yet seven signifies perfection and generosity. He knew that Jesus was very generous in everything, including forgiveness. He saw Jesus’ exceptional tolerance to pubic sinners, Pharisees, and scribes. Thus, when Peter bargained with seven, he was being generous already. Maybe Peter knew the rabbinical standard of God’s forgiveness in the Old Testament: “Thus says the Lord: “For three transgressions of Damascus I will forgive them, and for four, I will not revoke the punishment.” (Amos 1:3,6,9,11,13). Three was okay already. He doubled it and add one more. This was an act of generosity. But God wanted more from Peter. Not for His sake, but for Peter’s good! Our Lord was very practical when He answered “seventy-seven times.”
Jesus knows the possibility of hurting each other more than seven times. Thus, He wants us to forgive others always, to free us from our daily ill-feelings and thirst for revenge. For the first beneficiary of forgiveness would always be the one who forgives.
When Jesus demands seventy-seven times, it means countless. Forgiveness is a matter of the heart, not of the mind. It’s not mathematics but compassion. It’s all about mending our wounded spirit, and not revenge. It’s about returning huge gratitude we received from God unconditionally and not simply following God’s commandment to forgive.
Forgiveness is an act of gratitude or pay-back to God. Our awareness of God’s unlimited and unconditional forgiveness given to us could blow our minds. We don’t deserve God’s forgiveness, yet it was given to us freely, out of His generosity and compassion. This is enough to accept that seven is not enough. We are the recipients of God’s endless mercy. We cannot pay it back! It’s impossible! Thus, His invitation to try our best to forgive someone without limit becomes our small token of gratitude to show our appreciation of His great love.
In our gospel today, the Lord told his disciples the parable of the merciless servant to drive one point: FORGIVENESS IS THE PRODUCT OF GOD’S GENEROSITY. Love has no limits and conditions. When we remember God’s generosity, it disposes us to desire to forgive others. Yes, to forgive is not easy, but nothing is impossible in God. Remain in God’s love and desire for the grace to forgive. Slowly remove from your heart those ill-feelings that enslaves you. The pain will remain but just remember the pain we’ve inflicted on God each time we sin against HIm. Remember how the Lord forgave his enemies. And remember our gospel today, how God always forgives our debts. In the end, forgiveness becomes easy when we remember God’s generosity. IT’S TRUE, FORGIVENESS IS A MATTER OF REMEMBERING THAT WE ARE THE UNWORTHY BENEFICIARY OF GOD’S ENDLESS COMPASSION.
“God’s forgiveness is what we all need, and it is the greatest sign of His mercy. A gift that every forgiven sinner is called upon to share with every brother and sister he or she meets. It is beautiful to be forgiven, but you too, if you wish to be forgiven, forgive in turn. Forgive!” – Pope Francis
– Pitik-Bulag
August 13, 2020 – Thursday
Gospel Reading: Matthew 18:21-19:1

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