Then Peter approached Jesus and asked him, Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus answered, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.”
Christians know that we must forgive. In fact, most of us are willing to forgive once, maybe even twice, but it becomes really hard when we have to forgive someone over and over and over again. Yet that is the command of our Lord. When he says 70 times seven, he means that as often as someone wrongs you, that is how often you must forgive him.
In family life, we have many opportunities to forgive. St. John Paul the Great called the family, “the school of love,” and so it is. Forgiveness is essential to love. It is in our homes, and with our family members that we first experience this lesson. How many times do our family members hurt us or offend us? Younger brothers and sister destroy our work or ruin something we value. Siblings take things without asking, or say unkind words. Older brothers bully us, older sisters are bossy. It happens all the time. We must forgive.
Why is offering forgiveness so important? Without offering forgiveness, we cannot receive God’s forgiveness for our sins. Recall the words of the Our Father: “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who have trespassed against us.” We will only be open to God’s forgiveness if we have first forgiven those who have injured us, and there is no Heaven without God’s forgiveness. Our eternal happiness depends upon our ability to forgive.