I remember hearing this Gospel as a child and asking, “What happens if someone does something mean 78 times?” My mother, used to my very literal questions, gently told me I was missing the point. The point is to keep forgiving! When the number seven is used in Scripture, it represents completion or fullness. Forgiving 77 times seems both like overkill, as well as something to aspire to that will never be finished.
I’m reminded of the people in our lives that we need to forgive over and over. After a certain number of forgivable moments, hopefully we are finding ways to have conversations to amend behavior or setting appropriate boundaries. However, the person I never run out of opportunities to forgive is myself. We can be our own worst critics, unwilling to let go of our own mistakes and sins. In our lack of self-forgiveness, we miss the opportunity to experience God’s love in its depth. In the first week of the Spiritual Exercises, a person focuses on being a loved sinner; someone who encounters their brokenness and yet comes to know God’s full and complete love.
Today, find a moment to name something God has already forgiven, but you have not yet let go. Allow yourself to savor God’s love and grace.
—Lauren Schwer is the Associate Director of Campus Ministry at Loyola University Chicago.
Grandparenting God, you see our sin as symptomatic stutter, self-effacing struggle to ignore the confounding reality of your willful vulnerability: “I love you because I can’t do anything else. I made you, every last part of you: all that’s hidden and all that’s revealed, all that’s muddled and even all that’s clear. You are, at the risk of repeating myself, dear to me. You are precious in my eyes because…just because you are mine. That’s enough for me and it will have to do for you. Wrestle with it until you get tired and then relax and give in. Take a deep breath and enjoy.”
—Michael Moynahan, SJ