Can’t remember when I last had occasion to write about anything pious on this blog. So, due to this and also due to the need I feel to get over the humiliation of having made the most awful scripture-knowledge blunder just now, I gladly forsake my lecture on nitrogen in grasslands to let you partake of the following:
Just now, I was talking to Aelianus about Our Lord telling St. Peter that we are to forgive our brother until seventy times seven (Math. 18, 21-22), or, seven times in a day (Luke, 17, 3-4).
What struck me some while ago is that St. Luke specifically mentions the sinner repenting, while St. Matthew does not. I do not know if it was a sermon that directed me to the question or not: but might there be a difference between situations where our brother repents (and so implicitly, at least, asks for forgiveness), and where, without repentence, he (or she, says the gender-equality conditioned university employee) might even go happily on sinning?
Given that even Aelianus said this was interesting question and one should look it up in the Catena Aurea, and given that I was given a very impressive edition of this splendid work some time ago, I felt it my duty to do so. The result:
The comments on St. Matthew, by St. Jerome, St. Chrysostomos, and St. Augustine, seem to focus on (i) the fact that in the face of the overwhelming mercy of Our Lord we are of course to forgive our brother, and (ii) why Our Lord did not mean to say it was O.K. not to forgive the seventy-eighth time.
Among the comments on St. Luke, however, some seem to specifically take the fact o repentance into account, particularly the following:
AMBROSE; After the parable of the rich man who is tormented in punishment, Christ added a commandment to give forgiveness to those who turn themselves from their trespasses, lest any one through despair should not be reclaimed from his fault; and hence it is said, Take heed to yourselves.
BEDE; But we must mark, that He does not bid us forgive every one who sins, but him only who repents of his sins. For by taking this course we may avoid offenses, hurting no one, correcting the sinner with a righteous zeal, extending the bowels of mercy to the penitent.
While I do not suggest that we all check ourselves lest we irresponsibly have forgiven an unrepenting brother, I still think that an interesting consideration. If the more knowledgable or more pious than me have any further comments on this, I would be glad to learn.