Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Allah Al-Ghaffur, Part III

As for me, I’m really not sure what it means for us humans to forgive except to keep turning over these struggles to the Forgiving One and trying to love across and over the divide of transgression and pain that would separate us from those we struggle to forgive. And as we keep trying to trust God to allow love to take precedence over bitterness and anger, over time, love wins.

We realize the pain is no longer gnawing at our bones, that the tightness has loosened; and as for the one who has hurt us, we find we truly do wish him or her well. It’s as if we have been bathed in waters of forgiveness and the wounds have healed. They are now scars that tell the story of our life, but, through Christ Jesus, it’s not a tragedy; it’s a story of redemption – redemption of sins and evils, our own and those of others, that Christ has turned to work for good.

I want to close by reading to you some words written by Christian de Cherge, one of the seven Trappist brothers kidnapped by Islamic extremists in March, 1996, and murdered by them after two months of captivity; the stated reason for the killing was that the brothers were encouraging evangelism.

Brother Christian, prior of Notre Dame de l’Atlas monastery in Tibhirine, Algeria, had anticipated that one day, he might be killed in the terror ravaging Algeria. So he left a testimony for his family to open if and when that day came. So in May, 1996, Christian’s family shared these words with the world:

If it should happen one day, and it could be today, that I become a victim of the terrorism which now seems set to engulf all the foreigners living in Algeria, I would hope that my community, my Church, and my family, would remember that my life was given to God and to this country. I ask them to accept that the one Master of all life was not a foreigner at this brutal departure… I would like them to be able to link this death with so many other deaths, equally violent, but shrouded in indifference and anonymity… When the time comes, I would like to be able to have that stroke of lucidity which would permit me to ask forgiveness of God and of my brothers in humanity, forgiving whole-heartedly, at the same time, whoever my killer might be.

Returning to the thought of forgiveness in the last words of his testimony, Christian addresses his killer:

And so, this letter of gratitude, this “A-Dieu”, committing all to God, is intended for you, also, my friend of the last moment, you who will know not what you do. If God our Father wills it, may we be allowed to meet in paradise, the two of us together, blessed thieves.

That is a fearful and wonder-ful legacy for us, brothers and sisters. It is my prayer that here we would cultivate a culture of gratitude and forgiveness that will help us all on the journey as we seek to trust and serve God, the Forgiving One, Allah Al Ghaffur. For God can and WILL redeem it all, bringing healing in our own lives and in this world that God so loves.

Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
by Sister Karen, our Moroccan Momma


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