9th Week After Pentecost v Tuesday 


  How many times should I forgive? 


  The difference between the commandment to forgive all times and the
priest-s responsibility and right to bind and loose.


   Matthew 18:18-22; 19:1-2, 13-15  Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye
shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall
loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. 19 Again I say unto you, That
if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall
ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. 20 For
where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the
midst of them. 21 Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall
my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? 22 Jesus
saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until
seventy times seven. 1 And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished
these sayings, he departed from Galilee, and came into the coasts of
Judaea beyond Jordan; 2 And great multitudes followed him; and he healed
them there. 13 Then were there brought unto him little children, that he
should put his hands on them, and pray: and the disciples rebuked them.
14 But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come
unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. 15 And he laid his hands
on them, and departed thence.






  The following are notes about a portion of this Gospel. 


  The Lord had just finished telling all his disciples, that whatever
they bound on earth would be bound in heaven, and loosed on earth would
be loosed in heaven, referring to the awful responsibility of the
priestly ministry, when Peter, apparently not completely understanding,
asked how often he should forgive when  he himself was personally


  Here are two different things, and priest, mark well the difference! 


  In the one, the priest has a power and responsibility before God to
hear confessions and mandate that God's forgiveness be given, or in the
terrible case of the unrepentant, that such forgiveness not be given.
This is referring to a  person's personal sins against God only, for
every sin, whatever it is and to whomever it is directed, is always
against God. 


  Regarding sins against himself, such as when one person wrongs him in
some way,  the priest has NO AUTHORITY, but only a commandment: to
forgive "seventy times seven", that is, to ALWAYS forgive. We all share
in this commandment. 


   "For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will
also forgive you:  (15)  But if ye forgive not men their trespasses,
neither will your Father forgive your trespasses."   (Mat 6:14-15)   


  What a terrible responsibility the priest has! He must disassociate
himself from his personal views and feelings. To those that wrong him,
he shares with all men the responsibility to forgive all times. Only in
the case of when he is acting as God's priest, and in his judgment he
feels a person is not repentant concerning his sins, may he withhold






  Regarding the strange number "seventy times seven", Blessed Augustine
has an interesting comment: 


  "Yet not without reason did the Lord say, ?Seventy times seven;¦ for
the Law is set forth in ten precepts; and the Law is signified by the
number ten, sin by eleven, because it is passing the denary line. Seven
is used to be put for a whole, because time goes round in seven days.
Take eleven seven times, and you have seventy.  He would therefore have
all trespasses forgiven, for this is what He signifies by the number

  (Catena Aurea - Gospel of Matthew, Chap 18 -


  So the number "77" indicates not only that we must forgive always, but
that we must forgive ALL SINS ALWAYS. 


  Some of the Fathers interpret the number as 70 * 7 = 490. The actual
number is not important, but its meaning is - it is an arbitrarily large


  "What then saith Christ, the good God, who is loving towards man? ?I
say not unto thee, until seven times, but, until seventy times seven,¦
not setting a number here, but what is infinite and perpetual and
forever. For even as ten thousand times signifies 358 often, so here
too. For by saying, -The barren hath borne seven,- So that He hath not
limited the forgiveness by a number, but hath declared that it is to be
perpetual and forever."  (St John Chrysostom,  Homily LXI., Matt. XVIII.
2, http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf110.iii.LVIII.html - the
scripture quotation is from 1 Sam. ii. 5.)


  There are other instances in the scriptures when an arbitrary number
is used to indicate a limitless number: 


   "If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, truly Lamech seventy and
sevenfold."(  Gen 4:24 )


  Of course, my parish should be aware of another famous large number
(if you listen to my homilies): 


   "Simon Peter went up, and drew the net to land full of great fishes,
an hundred and fifty and three: and for all there were so many, yet was
not the net broken."   (John 21:11)






   This, and other Orthodox materials are available from:  


      McKinney, Texas

 ?'3f	  Mailing Address	Box 37, McKinney TX 75070

 ?'3f	  Rectory Phone	972/529-2754

 ?'3f	  Email 	seraphim@orthodox.net

 ?'3f	  Web Page	   


   This sermon and many others may be found at:      


  Our blog ?Redeeming the Time¦ contains many things like this sermon,
posted often:    


  All rights reserved. Please use this material in any way that is
edifying to your soul, and copy it for personal use if you so desire. We
ask that you contact St. Nicholas if you wish to distribute it in any
way. We grant permission to post this text, if completely intact only,
including this paragraph and the contact information above, to any
electronic mailing list.