‘Wrath and Anger are Hateful Things and Yet the Sinner Hugs Them Tight.’ Really?
By Father John Slampak, STL

On her golden wedding anniversary, Stella was asked, “What is your secret?”

“On my wedding day,” she said, I decided to make a list of 10 faults, which, for the sake of the marriage, I would overlook.”

She was asked, “What was on the list?

“You know, I never did get around to making the list, but whenever he did something that made me hopping mad, I would say to myself, ‘Lucky for him that’s one of the 10!’”

That’s the kind of forgiving attitude Jesus tells Peter he must have. As difficult as it may seem, there is no limit to the amount of forgiveness you are to offer.

As believers, there are times you become angry or times you are called to be angry in order to do something positive but, then, you must move beyond your anger into forgiveness.

The challenge from today’s Scripture is to learn how to forgive.

Mark Twain, in his autobiography, wrote a lengthy tirade about how an editor swindled him outrageously. Mark seems to be forgiving until he finishes his tirade, “He has been dead only through a quarter century, I feel only compassion for him, and if I could send him a fan, I would.”

When Jesus says you are to forgive seventy times seven times, he was not saying that, after 490 times you stop forgiving. You don’t reach a magic number and say, “I can’t forgive you anymore, I’ve reached my limit.” Forgiving is a way of life. When you are able to forgive, healing takes place in you.

When you are unable to forgive another person for what they have done to you, you are the one who suffers, you are imprisoned. The servant who was forgiven a great debt, didn’t accept it. He didn’t know himself to be forgiven and so he had nothing to pass on. That attitude can lock up your life. Charlie Brown knows that Lucy will always move the ball.    

A villager said to a monk, “My neighbor slapped me. Should I forgive him?

“Oh, yes,” answered the monk.

“How many times should I forgive my neighbor?” the villager asked.

“Well, how many times did he slap you?” asked the little monk.

“Once,” came the answer. “Then, forgive him once.”

But, what if he slaps me 50 times?”

“Then you should forgive him 49 times.”

“Why only 49 times, if I were struck 50 times?”

“Freely accept the 50th slap. You would deserve it for being such a fool to allow yourself to be slapped the first 49 times.”

Forgiveness is not a do-it-yourself project. It demands the presence of God, because forgiveness is a grace from God, who is all-forgiving.

“Forgive as the Lord has forgiven you.”