Sunday, January 25, 2009

Forgiveness: An exampe from the Pope

This Sunday we will look at the Christian value of Forgiveness.

As I promised one week ago, I will try and post on each Sunday what values Christians take from their faith, and also, I should have said, what values Christians teach their children. Events of this past week lead us to consider the Christion value and teaching of Forgiveness. I would like to share with you the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant Matthew 18:

21 Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? 22 Jesus said to him, I say not to you, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.

23 Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened to a certain king, which would take account of his servants. 24 And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought to him, which owed him ten thousand talents. 25 But for as much as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. 26 The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay you all. 27 Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt. 28 But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellow servants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that you owe. 29 And his fellow servant fell down at his feet, and sought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay you all. 30 And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt. 31 So when his fellow servants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told to their lord all that was done. 32 Then his lord, after that he had called him, said to him, O you wicked servant, I forgave you all that debt, because you desired me: 33 Should not you also have had compassion on your fellow servant, even as I had pity on you? 34 And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due to him. 35 So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also to you, if you from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.

The endless slaughter in the Holy Land has all of us heartbroken. From the leaders in Israel we hear their justification of excessive violence that caused the death of 400 Palestinian children as they crouched for safety in their homes inside the Gaza Ghetto. Having lived under the Israeli siege for almost 2 years, and a blockade of two months, these children were often without food, water and medical care. Even as the UN and other international human rights groups called on Israel to recognize the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, Israel arrogantly, and with extreem cruewlty, denied there was any humanitarian crisis.

Now, today, Israel is schreeching in anger and attacking the Pope, because he wants to rehabilitate 4 conservative Bishops, one of whom is a Holocost denier acording to Israel. No Mercy!! No forgiveness. No rehabilitation. No reconsiliation. Only ostrazitaion will satisfy the hate filled Jewish vendeta, bound and determined to teach the whole world the lesson they teach their children: We will never forget. We are the victims. Our tragedy trumps everyone else. Listen to us, or else. We will accuse you of anti-Semitism, and destroy your career. We have no choice, we must be ever vigilant, lest the holocast happens again. So goes the Israeli, or Jewish wail. Anger, hate and fear perpetrated into pertuity. No end in sight. No hope. No forgiveness. An endless Nuremburg trial.

Yes, it is true, I checked the news, and sure enough the Pope is going to talk with the 4 excommunicated Biships, and Jewish entities are attacking the Pope, even as gaza children continue to die of their wounds under the savage, barbaric and inhumane bombardment of the Gaza Ghetto, where Israel refused to allow innocent Palestinians and children to leave the Ghetto during the bombardment.

'Fifty years ago today, Pope John XXIII called a council," by Jason Petrosa, published on National catholic reporter on Line today, describes the thought behind the decision to excommunicate the 4 Bishops, and now the dicision to invite them back.

"Weary and even heart-broken, let us consider forgiveness. Our ultimate model of forgiveness is Jesus Christ, and for a concrete, recent Christian example we have the Amish of Nickel Mines, Pa. In the fall of 2006, Charles Carl Roberts IV, a truck driver, entered the Amish community’s one-room schoolhouse and held 10 girls hostage for several hours. He then shot and killed five of the girls and seriously wounded the other five.

How the Amish community responded with forgiveness in so many ways is told in the book Amish Grace, How Forgiveness Transcended Tragedy, by Donald B. Kraybill, Steven M. Nolt and David L. Weaver-Zercher (Jossey-Bass). “Amish people are likely to say that they are simply trying to be obedient to Jesus Christ who commanded his followers to do many peculiar things, such as love, bless and forgive their enemies,” they write. These Amish people’s ongoing forgiveness, pardon and reconciliation are a model for us as we try to liberate the Catholic church from its current predicament.

Forgiveness is the way to make us whole again. It is the medium through which we tap into the transcendent power of the Holy Spirit. Forgiveness is the balm to ease our pain and restore our optimism. Forgiveness helps us avoid sinking into the ugly cancer of contempt. It frees us from the temptation to get even, to one-up or put down our adversaries. Forgiveness enables us to purify our intentions so that every step of our ecclesial crusade is marked with magnanimity."

In "Benedict and the SSPX: the backlash begins ," Damian Thompson shows us how quickly people responded, many of whom may not be able to understand the meaning of the lifting of the excommunication.

This anger is nothing more, in my opinion, than hatred, and it is being aimed at the Pope, who, on January 1st, World Peace Day, spoke up for Christians who were suffering persecution for bearing witness. His views went unnoticed due to the horror Israel was visiting on the Gaza Ghetto.

"The Pope also gave attention to another type of anti-Christian persecution, one he pointed to in the Western world. He expressed his hope that "prejudice or hostility against Christians will not be cultivated simply because, on certain questions, their voice causes disquiet."And he offered words of encouragement for "the disciples of Christ, in the face of such adversity," urging them not lose heart."

I myself have experienced this kind of persecution, for expressing my views on the current catastrophy in Palestine. Nakba continues, but the Holocost is over.

"Israel Condemns Vatican’s ‘Concentration Camp’ Remarks," the NYTs headline screams! How dare they compare the Ghetto of Gaza with a consentration camp, claims the "offended" Israeli's. Ooops, are we all anti-Semitic? I am having a hard time thinking of what to compare Israel's brutal, inhuman, barbaric "neutralization" of Palestinians as Israels punishment for their daring to elect Hamas. Livni bragged that "Israel has gone wild," and that they needed to be taught a lesson. Oh, my, whatever happened to the "self defense" excuse?

So, it would seem from Israel's point of view, that Pope Benedict XVI is not going to parrot the Israeli narrative. I wonder why Israel ever thought anyone should, much less the Pope? We all have a right to exist, and we all have a right to define ourselves. The Israeli narrative is impossible for me to embrace, much less defend. In fact, it is indefensible. However, although not all Christians are Catholic, I am glad the Pope has taken a stand for our rights to express Christian values without being unfairly accused of anti-Semitism.

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