An ancient Rabbinic teaching, based upon the prophetic book of Amos, held that God forgives three times but punishes after the 4th offence. Since it was obvious that mankind was not expected to show more mercy than God, students of the tradition concluded that the limit of their forgiveness was to be no more than three times.
Jesus frequently spoke about “forgiveness” and eventually, Peter decided to clarify the matter and to show that he was open and full of good will, he outdid the Rabbis by suggesting that 7 times might be more appropriate. Jesus jumped at the opportunity and replied, “Try 70 X 7”. In other words, forget the numbers game since forgiveness has No limits!
What comforting words from the Divine Redeemer! With these words, Jesus carried Peter into the limitless depths of our Redemption. He followed this up with a story about two servants and their master. One servant owed his master 10,000 talents. This was an incredibly huge sum of money. More than $10,000,000 in our currency. Effectively the debt was infinite! When he begged for mercy the master forgave him without reservation.
By contrast, the debt owed to this same servant by a fellow servant was about $10.00.
God’s forgiveness knows no limits. I believe that sacramental confession has a major role to play in our becoming men and women of mercy and forgiveness. When we make the effort to see ourselves as God sees us, good people with plenty of room for improvement, and then seek forgiveness and encouragement, we are expected to emerge freshly sensitized to our duty to be merciful and forgiving toward each other. After all, who can legitimately refuse forgiveness and mercy to one who sincerely asks for it… someone for whom Jesus did not hesitate to walk the extra mile to Calvary.
Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy. Divine and human mercy go hand in hand. Thank God for opportunities to be merciful…They may well be YOUR Saving Grace.