St. Peter never played baseball. Nevertheless, “Three strikes and you’re out!” seems to be what he had in mind when he asked Jesus about the limits of forgiveness. Like we’re often tempted to do, he assumed that forgiveness has its limits. Jesus understood this. That’s why he stressed that those who follow him are to forgive without limit.
Jesus doesn’t say that we need to condone what was done to us, deny our pain in being hurt, or trust the person who harmed us. However, he does call us to make the decision to forgive, and free ourselves from resentment and the desire for revenge.
When we refuse to forgive, we contribute to the world’s sorrow (and there’s enough of that already); we demonize the person who wronged us (and that’s unfair to them); and we deny ourselves the gift of God’s forgiveness (which is foolishness to us).
Forgiveness is indeed hard, but Jesus shows us the way. As Pope John Paul II reminds us, “Jesus’ cross invites us to respond to love with love.”
Readings for today’s Mass: http://www.usccb.org/nab/032911.shtml