“Forgive your neighbor's injustice.” How often must I forgive the brother who wrongs me?
“Not seven times, I say, seventy times seven times.”
Some of the social ills that we struggle against result in part from the refusal of people to forgive. Wars are fought and innocent people are killed, maimed, or displaced because people cannot forgive their neighbors for their actions or those of their ancestors. Our own society shows its own refusal to forgive in its obsessive clinging to the death penalty.
The world of social evil stands in need of forgiveness.
Those of us who are African-American are challenged by the gospel to forgive the slave masters of their ancestors as well as the racist descendants of those slave masters. Those of us who are women are challenged by the gospel to forgive the sexist men who have colluded, through action or inaction, in the creation and maintenance of a 'man's world.' The victims of war are challenged by the gospel to forgive all the militarists of the world.
“The Lord is kind and merciful; slow to anger and rich in compassion.” The challenge is for us to become like God, who is our creator and guide.
Mercy in itself, as a perfection of the infinite God, is also infinite. Also infinite therefore and inexhaustible is the Father's readiness to receive the prodigal children who return to his home. Infinite are the readiness and power of forgiveness which flow continually from the marvelous value of the sacrifice of the Son. No human sin can prevail over this power or even limit it.
Pope John Paul II, Dives in Misericordia, 1980:13.