Tuesday of the Third Week of Lent
Then Peter came up and said to [Jesus], “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.” (Matthew 18:21-22, RSV)
A reading from a Commentary on Matthew by St. Hilary of Poitiers:
“In every way he teaches us to be like him in humility and goodness. In weakening and breaking the impulses of our rampant passions he strengthens us by the example of his leniency, by granting us in faith pardon of all our sins… And we should not think how many times we forgive, but we should cease to be angry with those who sin against us, as often as the occasion for anger exists. Pardon’s frequency shows us that in our case there is never a time for anger since God pardons us for all sins in their entirety by his gift rather than by our merit.”2
St. Hilary shows us that our Lord is meek and humble of heart. From a worldly perspective, this is mocked as weakness. Actually, as St. Hilary points out, it breaks the cycle of anger and hatred in our hearts and world. We are to follow our Lord’s example of gentleness and humility by forgiving our brothers and sisters. And, as he explains, we should not keep track of how many times they have done us wrong, since God does not keep track. God has forgiven us a huge debt, and we ought to do likewise with our fellow human beings.
St. Hilary draws out the implication of pardon’s frequency. If we are to forgive as often as the occasion arises, then there is never really a time for anger. Now, I think a distinction is to be made here. We can have angry feelings, but we should not act upon that anger, by strangling our fellow servant for instance. There is a place for feeling righteous anger, but that is different from physical or verbal violence.
Reflection: How often do you have to forgive others, or even yourself? What would it be like if we did not keep track? Often it is someone very close to us, “a brother,” as St. Peter says, whom we have to forgive. Trust that nothing is beyond forgiveness from God’s point of view. Now is a good time to make the first step toward reconciliation. Pray about it!
Reflection by Brother Luke Kral, OSB
 Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture. New Testament, vol. 1b. Manlio Simonetti, InterVarsity Press, 2001. p. 82-83.