Memorial of Saint Clare, virgin
(Joshua 3:7-10a.11.13-17; Matthew 18:21-19.1)
In a story a hoodlum kills a man presumably in a squabble over a parking space. But something more sinister is involved. At the end of the story, after several years have transpired, the son of the original victim murders the hoodlum. Retaliation was brooding all the while. Jesus tells his followers in the gospel today that they should not let it have sway in their lives.
Peter must think himself radical when he asks Jesus if one has to forgive another as many as seven times. But seven – the number of fulfillment – does not satisfy the Lord. Since forgiveness is at the core of the good news, “seven times seventy-seven times” would be closer to what he has in mind. In other words, Jesus wants his followers to always forgive.
Without forgiveness, as Blessed John Paul II noted, justice is impossible. One side eventually has to say, “Enough,” and forego retaliation. If not, hatred will grow like a foreign weed eventually taking over the social landscape. Whether in the Middle East or within our families, someone must forgive wrongdoing or no one will live in peace.