As a parent, if your little child comes to you after spilling his or her drink and says, “I’m sorry,” would you forgive your child? How many times could your little child come to you and say “I'm sorry” before you say, “I do not forgive you.”?
How many times would you forgive that child once the child is a teenager? How many times would you forgive that child once the child is an adult? What if this was your neighbor’s child? When have we forgiven someone enough times?
Peter asks Jesus that very question, “Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus tells Peter, and us, how God gives His mercy of forgiveness, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.” Jesus does not mean that we do not have to forgive on the seventy-eighth time, but that we must always be ready to forgive when we are asked for forgiveness. Jesus never turns us away in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, regardless of the number of times we ask for forgiveness.
Forgiveness is showing the love Jesus calls us to have for each other. Jesus tells us how important our love for one another is in God’s eyes: “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”
If we ever feel that another deserves “judgment” rather than forgiveness, we must remember that “judgment” is left to God. God will judge us as we judge another; however, God will also forgive us in the same measure that we forgive one another. The choice is ours to make.