Two stories of forgiveness
My previous post wasn’t overflowing with Good News but two recent events are for me genuine expressions of the Gospel. The gospel (Mt 5:43-48) for today, Saturday of the First Week of Lent, reads:
Jesus said to his disciples:
“You have heard that it was said,
You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.
But I say to you, love your enemies,
and pray for those who persecute you,
that you may be children of your heavenly Father,
for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good,
and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.
For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have?
Do not the tax collectors do the same?
And if you greet your brothers and sisters only,
what is unusual about that?
Do not the pagans do the same?
So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
It seems to me that this Good News has been proclaimed very forcefully in the following two stories.
On 11 April 1985 a young Italian priest, Fr Tullio Favali PIME (Pontifical Institute for the Foreign Missions), was brutally shot dead in Tulunan, North Cotabato, Mindanao. He hadn’t been very long in the Philippines. The real target was another PIME priest, Fr Peter Geremia. Recently one of the killers, Norberto Manalo, was released frm jail and met Father Geremia in the bishop’s house in Kidapawan. Ma. Ceres P. Doyo wrote about this in her column, Human Face, in the Philippine Daily Inquirer on 6 February.
Ceres Doyo had read Father Geremia’s book Dreams and Bloodstains: the Diary of a Missioner in the Philippines before it was published some years ago. She ends her hope-filled article thus: ‘”Dreams and bloodstains end in forgiveness”. In this season of Lent.
Another story that I came across only today, even though it’s a month old, also gives me hope. President José Ramos-Horta of East Timor asked his people to forgive former President Suharto of Indonesia when the latter was dying. Suharto was responsible for countless deaths in this small country when Indonesia invaded it in December 1975 after the Portuguese left. Some of President Ramos-Horta’s own family were killed.
He himself is now out of danger and recovering in Darwin, Australia, after an assassination attempt at his home last Monday. Let’s pray for his full recovery.