« Once, twice, three times… There is a limit! »
– Peter, on how many times he can forgive Judas Iscariot for his rudeness to Jesus
« There is no limit to love and forgiveness. There is none. »
– Jesus, in reply
421. Speaking of Judas Iscariot, Simon Peter: « You are not going to tell me that he acts rightly in grieving the Master, in lacking in respect to Him, in causing ill feelings…»
« Be good, Simon! I can assure you that he is somewhat mad…» says the Zealot.
« Well. He may be. But he sins against the kindness of our Lord. If he spat in my face, if he boxed my ears, I would put up with that and offer it to God for his redemption. I have taken it into my head to make every sacrifice for that and I bite my tongue and I run my nails into the palms of my hands when he plays the fool, in order to control myself. But I cannot forgive him for being bad to our Master. The sin he commits against Him, it’s the same as if he committed it against me, and I cannot forgive him. Then… if it were only now and again! But he is always at it! I cannot get over the anger boiling within me about one of his quarrels, and he makes a fresh scene! Once, twice, three times… There is a limit!» Peter is almost shouting his words and is gesticulating impetuously.
Jesus, Who is about ten metres ahead of them, turns round, a white shadow in the night, and He says:
« There is no limit to love and forgiveness. There is none. Neither in God nor in the true children of God. As long as there is life, there is no limit. The only obstacle to the descent of forgiveness and love is the impenitent resistance of the sinner. But if he repents, he is always to be forgiven, even if he sinned not once, twice or three times a day, but much more frequently.
You also sin and you want to be forgiven by God and you go to Him saying: “I have sinned! Forgive me”. And forgiveness is pleasant to you and it is pleasant to God to forgive. And you are not gods. Consequently the offence given to you by people like yourselves is less grave than that given to God, Who is not like anybody else. Do you not think so? And yet God forgives. Do likewise yourselves.
Be careful! Watch that your intolerance does not become detrimental to you by causing God to be intolerant towards you. I have already told you, but I will repeat it once again. Be merciful in order to have mercy. No one is so sinless as to be inexorable towards a sinner. Look at your own burdens before considering those weighing on the hearts of other people. Remove yours from your souls and then turn to those of other people to show them not the severity that condemns, but the love that teaches and helps to be freed from evil.
So if your brother sins, admonish him kindly, and if he repents, forgive him. And if at the end of the day he has sinned seven times and says to you seven times: “I repent”., forgive him seven times. Have you understood? Will you promise Me that you will do that?
While Judas is away, do you promise Me to be indulgent to him and to help Me to cure him making the sacrifice of controlling yourselves when he does anything wrong? Do you not want to help Me to save him? He is your brother in spirit as he comes from one sole Father, by race as he comes from one sole people, by mission as he is an apostle like you. So you ought to love him three times. If in your family you had a brother who grieved your father and exposed himself to censure, would you not try to correct him so that your father suffered no longer and no one spoke ill of your family? So? Is your family not a greater and holier one as its Father is God and I am the First-born? Why, then, do you not want to console the Father and Me and help us to improve the poor brother who, believe Me, is not happy to be so?…» Jesus is anxiously imploring on behalf of the apostle who is so full of faults…