"’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.” - Mt 18:21-22

When I read today’s Gospel, I notice Peter’s question, but I read it like, “Lord how often MUST I forgive my brother if he wrongs me?” I think, “Do I HAVE to forgive?  I should be a good person and forgive, however, it’s much easier to hold on to my grudge and have my judgments about that person.” Maybe I am capable of seven times the forgiveness if I try really, REALLY hard.  

Yet, God calls us to even greater mercy than what we can imagine.  He, oh so gently, reminds us that we are made to love from a deeper, freer place –seventy-seven times.  This place takes a letting go – a letting go of my ego, my judgments, my interpretations of how the person wronged me, what I think “should” happen or “is right”, a letting go of myself and a leaning on God and into grace.  A greater surrender for what God might have to offer.

This Lent I chose to tap into this gentle invitation from God to forgive and love deeply.  I made a promise to pray for someone daily that I truly struggle with.  As each day passes, Jesus helps me see this person through His eyes and not my own.  He helps peel another layer of my hurt off and add another layer of healing on as I look at this person through His gentle loving gaze.  This shedding of hurt and layering of healing helps me see how many times I have been the servant begging to God to “be patient with me” and God freely provided mercy to me as the king did to the servant. From this merciful exchange, I wish I could say that I freely give mercy to others, but I often find that I, like the servant in the Gospel, am a hypocrite that struggles with extending mercy to fellow servants begging for the same patience. 

A wise friend once helped me recognize that “everyone is a hypocrite.” We preach and strive to be like Jesus, but the reality is that we are not Jesus and often fall short.  We are hypocrites who beg for patience and don’t want to give it, who ask for forgiveness and struggle to let go of grudges.  However, our God accepts us just as we are.  He receives our hypocrisy and invites us to greater transformation, forgiveness, and a deeper more loving way of life.

Jesus, walk with me this Lent and help me to trust in your abundant mercy and deep love.  Transform in me a new heart to learn from your example and forgive those who have wounded me.

How does God remind you to love from a deeper freer place? 

Jaclyn Torres