I was overwhelmed by a story reported by a Church persecution site recently. A ceremony was held May 23, Pentecost Sunday, to commemorate the 1-year anniversary of the bombing of the Assumption Church in Kathmandu. All victims of the bombing who attended the ceremony—whether wounded themselves or grieving the loss of a loved one—stated that they had forgiven their attackers.
One man said, “I have gone and met the two main people responsible for killing my wife and daughter. I have forgiven them and am praying for them.”
In the face of the tragedy, all denominations—Protestant and Catholic alike—joined together and provided for all who were suffering from the blast. This year, pastors of various denominations joined the multitude of Christians gathered for the prayer and praise ceremony in a field near the church.
Another survivor said, “I have forgiven them completely,” explaining that even suffering was part of God’s plan for him.
Only by the grace of God might we humans have such a reaction to personal attack. We, in our fallen nature, are so selfish, and so eager to take vengeance when a wrong is done to us. How easy is it for us to forgive? How simple is it to release another from the talons of our hatred? It is not easy or simple; yet it is exactly what Christ commands us to do. And when we do so, do we not feel the immediate liberation from the weighty burden of hatred that has yoked us?
Peter asked our Lord, “How many times must I forgive, seven?” (such was the Hebrew custom). “Not at all,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven.” Christ’s repetition of the number associated with the Holy Trinity might lead us to interpret His answer…infinitely. (Matthew 18.)
Let me share one more miracle that came from the tragedy at Assumption Church. One man who was responsible for the attack repented of his sins and turned to Christ in jail. He was glad when the members of the church he helped bomb came to visit him in prison, and he hoped to be given a Bible.
Dear Jesus, let us be vessels of Your mercy and forgiveness, that we might show Your saving love to a lost world.
Blessings of peace,
*For more on this story please visit the Union of Catholic Asian News website, http://www.ucanews.com/2010/05/24/bomb-blast-victims-forgive-perpetrators.