“bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.”
Who is the humble, or meek, or devout, or just, or faithful Christian? Is it the one who has done several acts of humility, meekness, devotion, justice, or fidelity? No, it is the one who devotes his best effort to consistent practice of these virtues. He fulfills the duty of Divine love when he loves God with all his heart, with all his mind, and with all his strength. In the same way, he only fulfills the duty of these good works when he does them with all his heart, with all his mind, and with all his strength. There is no other measure of doing good than our power of doing it.
The Apostle Peter puts this question to our blessed Savior: “Lord, how many times must I forgive my brother who sins against me? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “Not seven times, I tell you, but seventy-seven times!” (Matt. 18:21-22) Not as if after this number of offences a man might then stop forgiving, but the expression is to show us that our forgiveness isn’t bound to any number of offences. We are to continue forgiving the most repeated offences against us. Our Savior said in another place, “Even if he sins against you seven times in a day and seven times returns to you, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him” (Luke 17:4). If a man does not forgive his brother, because he has forgiven him often already, such a person breaks this law of Christ for forgiveness.
Now the rule of forgiving is also the rule of giving. You should not give or do good seven times, but you should seventy-seven times. You should not stop giving, because you have given often to the same person, or to other people, but you must see yourself as indebted to continue relieving those that continue in want, as you were obliged to relieve them once or twice. He that is not ready to forgive every brother, as often as he wants to be forgiven, does not forgive like a disciple of Christ. And he that is not ready to give to every brother that wants to have something given to him, does not give like a disciple of Christ.
There is the same goodness and the same necessity of being good at one time as at another. It is as much the best use of our money, to be always doing good with it, as it is the best use of it at any particular time. A reason for a charitable action is as good a reason for a charitable life. A reason for forgiving one offence is the same reason for forgiving all offences.