Another weeks with something less of a story and more like a teaching from Jesus. But this is an important one. In the Gospel reading for this weekend, Jesus follows up his words on church discipline with a directive about forgiveness.
What is interesting to me about most folk’s response to this passage – “you should forgive 77 times” – is how fast we head into lofty discussions of biblical numerology and variant translations and symbolism rather than focusing on the meat of the directive. Yes, seven is an important number to both the Old Testament and Jesus. Yes, some translations say 77 and others say “70 times 7”. Yes, seven is the number of hevenly perfection with allusions to the days of creation and stuff like like. But, at the end of the day, whether 60 or 77 of 490, Jesus is telling us we need to be willing to forgive a whole heck of a lot more than mos of us usually are. That’s the point.
Add to that the juxtaposition of this weeks lesson on forgiveness with last week’s lesson on Church discipline and you get a much deeper instruction on the processes of reconcilliation among folks in conflict. Yes, there is a method for the airing of grievances among the faithful. But, at the end of the day, what it adds up to is “forgive, forgive, forgive.”