It was many years past when a story hit the news; a man’s only daughter, young, vibrant, and with a wonderful life ahead of her was raped, brutally tortured, and killed by a man who didn’t have an ounce of decency about himself. He was brought to trial, convicted and sent to prison for a brutal crime that had those who followed the whole story saddened but relieved that justice was served.
The father, although suffering the loss of his only child through a most horrendous act of insensitive disregard for life, was able to confront the perpetrator faced and forgave him.
St. Pope John Paul, II was shot as he rode through the square and was close to death as the world prayed and watched daily until his miraculous recovery brought the answer to so many prayers. He credits the hand of the Blessed Mother Mary for diverting the bullet from entering a vital organ that surely would have been his demise.
The Holy Father visited the shooter in prison and forgave him.
During my childhood I was not the angel my mother hoped for and as a result suffered many unpleasant incidents for sometimes the smallest infractions adolescents commit. Wooden hangers or shoes with high heels were the tools that were supposed to change my ways. I never held the painful outbursts of corporal punishment from my mother, but learned, that to hold anger and resentments against my mother would not resolve this. I was able to overlook and forgive the woman who gave me life.
Not too difficult to recount the times many people hurt from family members’ outrage have been able to come back and forgive those who were sorry for their actions, no matter how painful the outbursts may have been. Some pain is not just physical but emotional as well.
We could say that the act of forgiving is more painful than enduring the tortuous encounters from those we love at times. Even strangers, committing horrible infractions upon us are still related through the creation of humanity by God as we are brothers and sisters in essence.
Think back 2,000 years. Did Christ hang on the tree at Calvary for just those that were treated unjustly? Or did He fulfill the plan of redemption for the unjust persons as well? God forgave each of us no matter what the sin. Remember, in confession, when we repent and try to reform or lives, God not only forgives the sin; He does not remember the sin any more. That’s true forgiveness.
As humans we all share one thing in common; watching people commit signs of anger for things that should not be acted out, but are. In horror, we wonder why and what is happening to a world that should be peaceful and serene and instead view a society seemingly gone mad. There are among us some, who for many reasons, treat others, usually the most innocent and vulnerable, with their selfish desires and eventually are discovered in ways that insults our sense of purity and self-reliance on virtue. Justice must always be served and the removal of some from societies mainstream should help to protect the innocent.
But how to look upon each person that has been an actor of violence, unconcerned for those they abuse, and give them their just due. Perhaps we need to satisfy our hurt by allowing our pain to diminish enough and like God use a forgiving heart.
I am sure it was not easy for Jesus to allow suffering upon His broken body, the ignominy performed upon His person (with two natures), and shedding His Precious Blood for you and me for everything we were guilty of because He loves us. It won’t be easy for each of us to also look away from persecuting those who currently are totally being accused of any type of crime against the most innocent. Justice must be served, but even though we won’t hang upon a cross to forgive others’ wrongs, we must endure the pain that all of us might be guilty of, be it small or great.