The Apostolate of the Laity

Waxing philosophical in communion with one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church.

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Location: Portland, Oregon, United States

I am just a sinner who holds fast to the notion that every human being on the planet is the result of a thought of God.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

I Forgive

"I forgive, I forgive."

Those were the last words of Sister Leoneall Sgorbati, age 65, after she was shot seven times while crossing the road from the hospital where she worked in Somalia to the village where she lived with four other nuns. She likely didn’t know the men who shot her; however she probably knew why they took their anger out on her. Being a Catholic in predominantly Muslim Somalia is a risky endeavor. She was killed for being a follower of Christ and His Church.

Forgive them Father, they know not what they do.”

Christ prayed those words as he hung from the cross in perhaps the most beautiful example of his divine mercy. In the Gospel He tells us that he came not to condemn, but to save.

Condemnation is often the path of least resistance that gets taken anytime we are insulted, injured, or angered. We have been hurt and our first response is to lash out at the attacker. We perceive injustice to ourselves or someone else, and the lynch mob mentality begins to develop in our hearts. That is how it is for our Muslim brethren. They believe with only their own will and not the will of God.

Christ came to change that. He came to show us a different path we could take. It’s not easy to turn the other cheek. It’s not easy not to hate when one has every human reason to do so. An eye for an eye seems much easier than a heart to heart.

“Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

Think about that for a minute. We’re actually asking God to forgive us the same way that we forgive others. So if we adopt a position of saying that someone who has offended us is beyond our forgiveness, how then can we turn to God as ask Him to forgive us? It’s challenging; maybe even a little disconcerting.

Christ humbled Himself to come to us and show us the way to a conversion of heart. It’s not something that happens overnight, and Christ understands. It takes time, and prayer, and practice. We will likely fail more times than we succeed, and Christ offers us His forgiveness, His mercy, even when we don’t always follow His lead.

Sister Sgrobati was a person whose heart had converted to Christ to the point that her concern as she lay dying was not for herself, but for the wounded, angry souls who allowed hate to motivate their actions. She asked Our Lord to forgive them. Forgive them.

As you make your way in the world and someone cuts you off in traffic; or says an unkind word; or simply neglects the obvious…try saying to yourself, or if you can to the person who offended you...

”I forgive, I forgive.”


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