There is always a struggle to comprehend God and His actions. We love to hear about God’s unconditional love, but fear about His justice. Can love and justice exist together? How can a Just God be that compassionate to His People? Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, in her writings, beautifully solves this problem. For her “God’s justice is His mercy”. If God’s very nature is mercy, then His justice must be mercy.

Thérèse always trusted in the mercy and compassion of God. She pictured God as a loving and caring parent – “I have long believed that the Lord is more tender than a mother. I know that a mother is always ready to forgive trivial, involuntary misbehavior on the part of her child. Children are always giving trouble, falling, getting themselves dirty, breaking things – but all this does not shake their parents’ love for them”.

In today’s Gospel passage, Peter asks Jesus what the limit is to forgive others. Is it seven times? If we know the background, Peter has shown a great deal of improvement. The rabbis had put the limit to three which was a significant improvement from the code of retaliation of Hammurabi.

It is natural for human beings to retaliate disproportionately for the harm done to them. It is not easy to forgive, especially when the hurt is grave. But unforgiveness can make us the prisoner of our own emotions, like: anger, hatred, grudge, and jealousy. When we refuse to forgive, we build a wall around ourselves, and we lock ourselves in.

The parable that Jesus presents in the Gospel shows us that we can never put limits in forgiving others. Because of our fallen nature, we owe a huge debt to God – but God forgives all of them. He never counts our offences but wants us to respond to His love and mercy from the freedom of our heart. As a result of becoming free children of God we have the duty to forgive others and to show mercy to them.

Jesus wants his disciples to reflect His Father’s mercy in everything they do, for “God’s Mercy is His love”.

–Fr. Ranjan D’Sa OCD

Category Reflections