St. Augustine of Canterbury Parish
Theme: “How often should I forgive? As many as seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘Not seven
times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.’” (Matthew 18:21b-22)
The entire work of God involves reconciling creation with his goodness. At the very dawn of
creation, God reconciles the universe with his compassionate heart, that is, he makes all that he
created good; he creates human being in his own image. Forgiveness is therefore the event and
process of reconciling a person with the image of God in a three-fold layer (reconciling a person
with God, reconciling a person with neighbour and community, and reconciling a person to
himself/herself). The mysteries of the life of Jesus Christ (birth, growth, teachings, passion,
suffering, death, resurrection and ascension) are the sublime and the highest instances of God’s
reconciliation with humanity and the universe. In one instance Peter asks Jesus: “Lord, a brother
or sister sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?” (Matthew
18:21). Basically, Peter wants to know how often anyone can stay away from being reconciled
with God and his works. Jesus clarifies the importance of reconciliation, thus:
“Peter came and said to Jesus,
‘Lord, a brother or sister sins against me,
how often should I forgive?
As many as seven times?’
Jesus said to him,
‘Not seven times,
but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.’”
When Jesus tells his disciples and Peter to forgive seventy-seven times, he makes it clear that
forgiveness is part of the ongoing work of reconciliation of God in which everyone is called to
be part of. In the parable, Jesus clarifies that God is the sole example for us to imitate in matters
“Then his lord summoned him and said to him,
‘You wicked slave!
I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me.
Should you not have had mercy on your fellow slave,
as I had mercy on you?’
And in anger his lord handed him over to be tortured
until he would pay his entire debt.
‘So my heavenly Father will also do to every one of you,
if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart.’” (Matthew 18: 32-35)
Forgiveness is an ongoing participation in the work of reconciliation of God with humanity and
the universe. Everyone needs to get involved in this reconciliation as the slaves did in the
“But that same slave, as he went out,
came upon one of his fellow slaves
who owed him a hundred denarii;
and seizing him by the throat, he said,
‘Pay what you owe.’
Then his fellow slave fell down and pleaded with him,
‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’
But he refused;
then he went and threw him into prison
until he would pay the debt.
When his fellow slaves saw what had happened,
they were greatly distressed,
and they went and reported to their lord
all that had taken place.” (Matthew 18.28-31)
What are we doing to participate in God’s work of reconciliation? What are we doing to be part
of Jesus Christ’s participation in the work of reconciliation of God with humanity? What are we
doing to carry out the ongoing work of God’s reconciliation with humanity and the universe?
Who are we imitating in God’s work of reconciliation? How often are we willing to participate in
God’s work of reconciliation: seven times, or seventy-seven times?