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Thursday, August 17, 2006

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Ezekiel 12:1-12
Psalm 78:56-59, 61-62
Matthew 18:21—19:1

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70 x 7 x 70 x 7

"My heavenly Father will treat you in exactly the same way unless each of you forgives his brother from his heart." —Matthew 18:35

Jesus not only told Peter to forgive 70 x 7, but also implied that we would need to forgive more (Mt 18:22). Usually we don't get hurt 70 x 7 because we don't let others have that many shots at us. After a few hurts, we, like turtles, put our heads back in our shells to prevent any additional wounding.

When Jesus calls us to forgive 70 x 7, He calls us to expose ourselves to repeated hurts. "When a person strikes you on the right cheek, turn and offer him the other" (Mt 5:39). He is not calling us to be masochistic, just to love as He loves, to love even enemies. God was and is hurt and insulted 70 x 7 x 70 x 7 times.

If we were God, we would just withdraw from the ungrateful rebellion of our planet and leave it doomed. Yet God does just the opposite. After His covenant is spurned and His prophets murdered, He sends His Son to save us and thereby exposes Himself to even greater hurt and insult (Mt 21:33-39).

By God's grace, let's forgive one another, not only to stop hurt but to absorb future hurts. Some forgivenesses prepare us to be hurt again and forgive again. The hurts go on and we forgive them as fast as they come. The exact translation of Jesus' words on the cross is, "Jesus kept saying: 'Father, forgive them' " (Lk 23:34).

Prayer:  Father, by Your grace, may I forgive as fast and as often as I am hurt.

Promise:  "Moved with pity, the master let the official go and wrote off the debt." —Mt 18:27

Praise:  Barbara's unconditional love for her abusive husband eventually reached his hard heart and effected his conversion.

Reference:  (For a related teaching, order our tape Forgiveness on audio AV 45-1 or video V-45.)

Rescript:  †Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, February 26, 2006

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