24th Sunday of Ordinary Time - Year A
Revenge could be extreme in biblical times. A mere slight or insult might bring maiming and even death. God tried to limit this in the Old Testament by limiting vengeance to "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a life for a life." (Ex 21:24) This may seem uncharitable by Christian teaching, but people had to be brought along slowly. Toward the end of the Old Testament period, an elderly religion teacher in showed current attitude. Sirach taught that revenge in any form was contrary to the law of God. It would heap God's wrath upon those who resorted to anger in any form.
FORGIVE 77 TIMES
Peter asks Jesus a question about the limits of reconciliation. He asks whether seven times is enough. Christ recommends seventy-seven times. The numbers are symbolic. Seven represented a perfect number. The ancients noted that the background of stars moved in a regular cycle, but that seven objects in the sky moved independently. These were the Sun, Moon, and five planets visible to the naked eye. Hence, seven seemed to have a divine significance. This explains why there are seven days in a week, seven sacraments, etc.
Luke's version of the story goes even further. In it Jesus demands "seventy times seven" or 490 acts of forgiveness. The point is the same, our mercy must be unlimited.
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