No Definite Number Makes Forgiveness Perfect

Matthew 18:21-35

Lord, how many times must I forgive the offences of my brother or sister? Seven times?..No, not seven times but seventy-seven times.

Fr Chito Dimaranan SDB reflects on forgiveness.


Forgiveness Sunday

Bakit mahirap magpatawad?

Primo Piatto


24th Sunday in OT (SIR 27:30—28:7; Matt 18:21-35)


When Peter asks Jesus asks about how many times he must forgive his brother who sins against him, he thought he was being generous when he proposes his answer: “Seven times?” Seven was, after all, the perfect number. But Jesus proposed something more: seventy times seven times! By proposing this number, Jesus is saying that no definite number makes forgiveness perfect.

Jesus then takes the opportunity to teach about forgiveness. He has made the kingdom of Heaven a common topic when he taught the crowds and when he did so, he made use of parables.

Now he narrates a parable about a king who cancelled the debt a servant of his owed him a large sum. The king had mercy on the servant. Ironically, this servant who was forgiven did not show the same mercy to another fellow servant: he did not cancel the debt of a fellow servant who owed him a mere fraction of what he owed the king. In the end we see the king punishing the servant who could not forgive his fellow servant’s debts. It is a lesson of forgiving our brothers and sisters from our hearts.

The words of Jesus recall to us the words of the prayer that he had taught earlier (Matt 6:9–13), that which we now call “The Lord’s Prayer.” Towards the end, we pray towards the end: “…forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us…” When in humility we ask the Lord for forgiveness, it is understood that with mercy we have already forgiven those who have asked us for forgiveness.

  • Do I find it hard to forgive? If so, who is that person whom I find hard to forgive?
  • Why do I find it hard to forgive? What does Jesus want me to do?

    Pray that you may love and forgive like Jesus. Pray for the capacity to forgive; if applicable, pray for the persons whom you find it difficult to forgive.

    Lectio Divina by Fr Joel Camaya SDB

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