Forgiveness is always a hard nut to crack. It is never easy to forgive and let go. Moreover, the bigger the hurt or the injury the more difficult it is to forgive. Until someone has something or some things to forgive, one might not really understand how hard it can be to forgive. In the gospel this weekend, it appears even Peter had some difficulty forgiving those who offended him. This seems obvious in Peter’s question to Jesus, “Lord, how often must I forgive my brother or sister if he or she wrongs me? As often as seven times?” Maybe Peter was getting sick of forgiving. He could no longer take it. He had had enough. He was probably getting ready to get even. The common teaching of the time required that one must forgive an offender at least three times. Peter thought that seven times, a number that implied perfection or completion, would be the limit. In other words, one simply reaches one’s limit after the seventh time. When Peter asked Jesus the question, Peter had perhaps expected to be warmly commended by Jesus, but Jesus startled Peter when Jesus replied: “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.” In other words, there is no limit to the number of times that we must be prepared to forgive. It was as if Jesus said to Peter, ‘the number ‘seven’ might be the number of perfection and completion but it does not apply when it comes to forgiveness.’ We remember a few weekends ago in the gospel, when Jesus stepped into the districts of Caesarea Philippi and asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” Given the miraculous deeds Jesus had performed, people likened Jesus to former prophets like Elijah, Jeremiah or John the Baptist. When Jesus felt that he had heard enough of the hearsays and popular opinions, he said to his disciples, ‘and who do you say I am? Peter answered: ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God (Matthew 13:16)’. Peter ceased to be Peter after this response. He went from Peter and became the foundation stone and rock upon which our Church stands. Peter stands for us as a representative figure. His struggles are our struggles. And what Jesus told him, Jesus tells us in the here and now. Today, the appeal to forgive comes to us in the face of many injuries and hurts we probably carry in our hearts. These injuries and hurts might be because of resentment we have continued to carry from childhood toward our parents, friends or siblings. How does one forgive a paedophile whose manipulative behaviour denies children of their innocence and undermines their chances for healthy intimacy? What about a murderer who has killed the joy of a family when one of their loved ones was brutally murdered? In the week of the anniversary of 9/11, would the world ever forgive the terrorists who blew up innocent people in New York and left many families permanently shattered? As a people and as individuals, we have been offended and we probably nurse anger. We have treasured anger, maybe even to the extent of allowing it to become hatred. What the anger or hatred we have nursed for years has done to us is to hold us back from forgiving. Ironically we have been imprisoned and in bondage. However, we can set ourselves free if we choose to forgive and let go. Forgiveness follows out of a conscious decision to let go and move on. It liberates and sets us free. It is not what we do for the people who have offended us but what we do for ourselves so that we can be free to move on. People who have refused to forgive and move on, always remain in the power and control of whoever injured them. In making the choice to forgive, we are not expected to blot out painful memories, but to act on them in creative and life-giving ways. We simply need to let go of any hatred that has turned our lives into a prison, or any rope that has held us back for years. The choice is ours to make.