Thursday, February 1, 2018
THE DELICATE TASK OF PREACHING FORGIVENESS IN A WORLD THAT WANTS REVENGE
Let me preface my few remarks with this truth. You can forgive a crocodile for biting you but you should never place your hand in his mouth again!
Forgiveness does not always mean forgetting nor does it imply that justice should be eliminated. And yes, in this life, there are some people who are destined to hell and we should have no illusions about rehabilitating these kinds of people try as we may in the prison system. Sometimes the death penalty is required to protect individuals and society in and outside of the prison system and Catholic tradition allows for it notwithstanding any speculation to the contrary.
But with both the horrible cases of sexual abuse of minors by clergy as well as sexual abuse that happens in the world, such as the Larry Nasser case, it seems that our society promotes the worst in us in terms of getting even, spewing off and stoking the fires of rage. The Survivor's testimony and the judges condemnation seem to go over the top in this regard.
Our Catholic Faith tells us that we have to be purified of hate, the desire for revenge and that if we are to find ourselves in heaven one day, all and everyone will be forgiven and loved, especially the least of those that we thought would never make it to heaven.
How does the Church promote this in a world consumed with hate and the desire for revenge.
There have been wonderful examples of this kind of forgiveness from our Protestant brothers and sisters toward criminals. I think of the church shooting in Charleston, SC and the forgiveness offered to the perpetrator from surviving family members. It is possible!