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Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Forgiveness - the Holy Healer

Forgiveness - the holy healer

We have all been injured by someone. Sometimes the injury is minor; sometimes it isn't. Either way it comes our way - physically, mentally, emotionally, verbally.... in playgrounds, grocery stores, homes, parking lots, school, etc.

Today is the first day of school, and we know that some of the kids will bring their emotional hurts to school. It's true, that hurt people hurt people and so the cycle of injury continues... until we decide enough is enough. And that's where forgiveness comes in.

Immaculee Ilibagiza, genocide survivor, teaches us about forgiveness first hand in the book Left to Tell. Immaculee barely survived the Rwanda genocide that took place in the mid 90's in which over  one million Rwandans were brutally murdered by fellow Rwandans.... Why did this brutality occur? Fear, hatred, repressed anger, and other usual suspects were the reasons used by neighbors to kill other neighbors. The dead included Immaculee's beloved mother, father, and two brothers.

Americans harbor a lot of the same vices which turn violent when they reach the tipping point. Domestic violence is widespread as is neighborhood or gang violence. There are a lot of hurt people hurting a lot of people.

Bringing violent people to justice is always going to be necessary in order to prevent them from hurting others. But what about the victims? Should they seek justice or vengeance - that is the question.

Immaculee teaches us that only forgiveness can turn hatred and injustice into charity! Pope Francis teaches us the same.... Most of us will never have to forgive someone who killed our family... but all of us will have to forgive someone who says he/she love us.

None of us are perfect and all of us are guilty of being insensitive to others' feelings. All of us lack understanding.All of us are impatient. Who are we to expect someone else to be perfect when we aren't.

But how do we forgive the little offenses? We really can't without some supernatural help. And that is the point of the book! With God all things are possible - even forgiveness for those who try to take from us - even life!

If we don't forgive , we will end up just as hateful and vengeful as the perpetrators.

Immaculee ends with this note: "Tens of thousands who were jailed for killing during he genocide are starting to be released into their old towns and villages. If there was ever a time for forgiveness it is now. Rwanda can be a paradise again, but it till take the love of the entire world to heal my homeland... the love of a single heart can make a world of difference. .... " Her message applies to the US as well.

We continue to be torn and divided by differences in politics, beliefs, and practices. For those of us who say we are Christian, we can change hearts by proving that we love - really. And that takes forgiveness - the supernatural type that comes to us by way of prayer, devotion to the Divine Will, and dying to selfishness and self-centeredness. The Pope has called for a day of sacrifice and fast on Saturday, September 7th for peace in Syria. Let's begin there.

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