Matthew 18:21-35 NRSV
Then Peter came and said to him, “Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?”
Jesus said to him, “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.
“For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. When he began the reckoning, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him; and, as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, together with his wife and children and all his possessions, and payment to be made. So the slave fell on his knees before him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And out of pity for him, the lord of that slave released him and forgave him the debt.
But that same slave, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and seizing him by the throat, he said, ‘Pay what you owe.’
Then his fellow slave fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ But he refused; then he went and threw him into prison until he would pay the debt.
When his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place. Then his lord summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked slave! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. Should you not have had mercy on your fellow slave, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his lord handed him over to be tortured until he would pay his entire debt.
So my heavenly Father will also do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”
“Seventy times seven.” Forgiveness must characterize the Christian, even when a friend despises our friendship. We may not remain “friends,” but we never cease to love, to forgive, to be true to the one who has proved false to us. It is the way our Lord Jesus treats us.
Friendship, indeed, is eternal, and so, “A friend loves at all times.” If the one you love offends you, you continue to love. Even if you are forced to withdraw your friendship, you must not withdraw your love. As much as you are able, be concerned for his health, watch out for his reputation, and never reveal the secrets of his friendship, even he should reveal yours.
—Aelred of Rievaulx (1110-1167)
Spiritual Friendship 3.44