The soldiers take big nails and drive them into Jesus’ wrists and feet. He has done nothing but good, yet they crucify him. The soldiers have their counterparts today. Some countries torture, brainwash, water-board, beat, electrically shock and humiliate their political prisoners and seldom do the people protest too strongly. Instead, many people turn to Facebook where they can spew venom, invectives and callous hate with seeming impunity. Torture doesn’t have to be as deliberate as driving nails into someone’s flesh. It could be an ill chosen word, a thoughtless action, a comment on a Facebook page, or, sometimes not to act is to act.
Sometimes we discriminate against others. Even without thinking, we judge others because of their color, intelligence, income level or name. We forget that we are to live as a brother or sister to all people. Sometimes we use harsh words when we speak to our children and family members. We can find it easy to look for something that isn’t very important and make it very important.
An organist for a local Roman Catholic church was living with a secret: He was gay. He was a dynamic musician and brought much life to the church liturgies and was an instrument for growth in the parish. When he contracted AIDS and became too ill to continue serving his parish, he quit, word spread quickly and the church was scandalized. The priest said “If I knew he was gay, I never would have hired him.” There was no forgiveness or compassion. His father was even the deacon for the parish.
Sister Karen Klimczak of Buffalo ran a halfway house for ex prisoners. She took in a new resident who was struggling with drug addiction. His name was Craig Lynch. It was Good Friday, 2007 and when Lynch saw Sister Karen’s cell phone on a table,he strangled her and took her phone to sell for drug money. Sixteen years earlier Sister Karen predicted her murder and wrote a letter forgiving the person who would one day take her life. The letter was found in her belongings after her death and read in court at Lynch’s sentencing:
“Dear Brother, I don’t know what the circumstances are that will lead you to hurt me or destroy my physical body. No, I don’t want it to happen. I would much rather enjoy the beauties of this earth, experience the laughter, the fears and the tears of those I love so deeply! Now my life has changed and you, my brother, were the instrument of that change. I forgive you for what you have done and I will always watch over you, help you in whatever way I can. . . . Continue living always mindful of His Presence, His Love and His Joy as sources of life itself — then my life will have been worth being changed through you.”
Deputy District Attorney Frank A. Sedita stood up afterward and said, “There’s been talk of forgiveness, but, Judge, forgiveness is for God. Sentencing is for court.” Lynch received the maximum of 25 years to life. At that, the other nuns and co-workers of Sister Karen stood up and hugged the family of Lynch.
Forgiveness can be hard, but, forgiveness is also very easy; Living with hate is very hard. It is an endless downward spiral with the gravitational pull of a black hole but, it is surprisingly very simple to step out of. Just like the cross – a symbol of death can be a symbol of life, compassion and forgiveness. But, only to those with eyes to see.
Almighty Father, help us look again at the people around us. Help us see the hurt and pain in others. Help us make amends for the harm we have done.Clothe us in your Spirit that we, reaching forth our hands in love, may bring those who do not know you to the knowledge and love of you; for the honor of your name. Amen.