This week, “evil” has been suggested as the cause of the Boston Marathon bombings. There were many sermons yesterday throughout the country calling for forgiveness with Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley preaching at a packed Mass at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston, “Forgiveness does not mean that we do not realize the heinousness of the crime,” he told reporters afterward. “But, in our hearts, when we are unable to forgive, we make ourselves a victim of our own hatred.”
In his book, The Art of Forgiveness, Lewis Smedes, says, “When we forgive evil we do not excuse it, we do not tolerate it, we do not smother it. We look the evil full in the face, call it what it is, let its horror shock and stun and enrage us, and only then do we forgive it.”
I’ve just finished an interesting book by John A. Sanford, Evil: The Shadow Side of Reality.
Sanford states: “…there is an inevitable dark side to our nature that refuses to be assimilated into our lofty ideals of goodness, morality, and ideal human behavior…If we go beyond the bounds of our natural capacity for love and kindness, we build up an opposing amount of anger and cruelty within us.”
“Moreover, if we strive to be only good and perfect, we become hateful, for too much of the vital energy within us is being denied…the important thing is that we recognize the Shadow side of ourselves. This recognition alone produces a powerful and beneficial change in consciousness. For one thing, it greatly aids our humility, our sense of humor, and our capacity to be less judgmental of others. The Shadow cannot be denied, but must be dealt with in the light of a higher authority.”
The Rev. Malone Gilliam commented in yesterday’s sermon at The Table at St. George’s Episcopal Church in Nashville, “There is a huge gap between our human capacity to forgive and God’s capacity. If we acknowledge that God forgives all sinners, no one is exempt. The problem becomes that if we draw the line between those forgiven and those not forgiven, we may find ourselves, or our loved ones, on the wrong side of the line. It is only because of the power of our Savior Jesus Christ that we can ever hope to close that gap. It is only because God has forgiven us and sent His Son to us that we can forgive the unimaginable, too.”
As a nation, we will wrestle with this need to forgive for a long time.
Blessings, my friend,
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