By Nora Bourke
It's a busy day and I'm doing errands within a free window of time. I quickly pull out my smartphone to see the balance on my checking account. Then I check the credit card statement. I do math in my head in the aisles of Target as I grab items for purchase. At some point I’ll settle for certain choices based on price.
My head is constantly comparing and computing.
As a financially independent person I’m used to the guilt trip that tends to happen at every trip to the store or coffee shop as I’ve trained myself to keep count of what I’m taking.
With every card swipe or chip insert comes with feeling the weight of the bills I have to eventually pay. They come every month at the same time.
This continues in other parts of my life, such as when my family decides to go out for dinner. I keep a mental note and recalculate. “I’m going to spend an extra $15-30 dollars that I wasn’t planning to spend this week,” I remind myself.
So we go out, I pick my meal, we eat, enjoy conversation, and the bill comes. Lo and behold, my mother doesn’t hesitate when she immediately grabs my bill along with hers and credit card in hand. I’m still baffled every time this happens... along with a sigh of relief. Even if I were to order something that is a bit expensive, my mother still wouldn’t be afraid of running out of money for me.
She gives anyway.
Now of course I once depended on my parents for everything growing up. But I find it incredibly humbling that at the end of the day, my parents still want to take care of me. Why are they still willing to provide? What did I do to deserve this?
I think about all the sacrifices they’ve made for me as well as how much emotional and physical effort that’s been invested. Effort that reassures I’m forever in debt to them.But somehow they don’t see it that way. Something within their heart prompts a desire to give even though they don’t have to. It flows from a great love.
I can’t help but think of this when I think of God and His mercy, especially in the Gospel reading for today. In Matthew 18, Jesus is challenged by Peter. As someone who practices the amount of times he forgives, Peter has been taught to remember every wrong done to him. We see that the choice to follow Jesus brings him to question whether or not to increase the amount of times he forgives. He’s deciding on a number that is achievable. Perhaps seven?
Jesus, right then and there, corrects him with “seventy-seven times.” Now I can totally relate to Peter here, being a person of measurement. A person of numbers by remembering what he has done and what he has received.
So our Lord looks at this man, knows his heart and gives him an answer that Peter probably wasn’t expecting. It’s crazy to imagine, but Jesus Christ does not count the amount of times he forgives.
Seven is not enough, give more.
Forgiving someone, asking forgiveness, or even seeking it in the confessional is not mere maintenance. In a simple encounter of mercy there is a resounding redemption in my life and in the lives of others.
It is victory!
I’ve wrestled with Him enough times to know that Jesus isn’t gullible. He doesn’t carelessly throw forgiveness like flowers while skipping around to the tune of music. He seriously knows the depths of my heart as a sinner and gives the sacrament of Reconciliation. With that comes trust, knowing that my God knows the weight of sin and meets me in it just like how He sought out even the most shameful of sinners. He still does...in my weakness and pride He is a constant giver of immeasurable mercy. A great love. Mercy is a great love.
The fact that Jesus corrects Peter means He is correcting me and has given me the ability to walk in His way. To give our great love like He does, time and time again.
I am reminded that Jesus calls me to virtue, not limitation.
My own ability to measure my actions, whether financial or moral, does not decrease my ability to be loved. Jesus does not run out of forgiveness. He is asking me to do the same.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Nora is proud to be the Associate Director of Youth Ministry at Our Lady of the Rosary from the great Diocese of St. Petersburg in Florida. As a graphic designer, videographer, speaker, social media manager, disciple, humble servant, and goofball... she's a thriving 20-something who yearns to explore the world, serving with a heavy heart.