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When Peter asks Jesus how many times he should forgive, even seven times, Jesus replies in Matthew 18:22, "Not seven, but seventy times seven."  Wait! I know this! Seventy times seven is 490.

Yikes, I have to forgive someone who's wronged me 490 times! Can't we plea bargain this down a bit, maybe split the difference and make it an even 248? Somehow I get the feeling Our Lord is not in a bargaining mood when it comes to the forgiveness business. Yeah, I know He forgives infinitely, but 490? A little harsh for we mere humans.


On second thought, even though I'm not a speed talker (though friends south and west swear we New Yorkers talk a mile a minute), I can say "I forgive you" pretty quickly. "IforgiveyouIforgiveyouIforgiveyou"...I think I can do that in under five minutes. Then, when it comes to number 490,  I can just smack the offender upside the head, dealing out the punishment (s)he so rightly deserves.


That felt pretty good, Jesus impliedly giving me permission to deliver strict corporal punishment after only 490 tepid attempts at forgiveness. That's when it hit me. Forgiveness can't be tepid. I can't just feebly recite "I forgive" 490 times, but have to really mean it, so much so that by incident 491 I and my attacker likely will be fully and irrevocably reconciled.


My initial thought on hearing this math question remains...Yikes! I am so far from heaven.


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