The Weapon of Forgiveness
Readings: Mic 7:14-15, 18-20; Lk 15:1-3, 11-32
"But now we must celebrate and rejoice, because your brother was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found." Lk 15:32
He survived the atomic bomb in Hiroshima. But Thomas Takashi Tanemori lost six members of his family, including both of his parents. He was 8 years old at the time. He wound up immigrating to America in 1956, but he brought with him an angry heart filled with revenge. "My childhood was annihilated, my dignity crushed in the rubble of post-war Japan. The atomic ashes forced my journey with rage and hatred," he wrote. "To revenge I worked, by revenge I slept, and for revenge I had to survive."
The ugliness in his heart only mirrored the ugliness of his experience. That's no way to live. But eventually, through the loving influence of his American wife, Thomas underwent a spiritual conversion. He discovered the importance of healing the human heart by turning from vindictiveness to forgiveness. A man whose heart was filled with darkness and revenge, he now gives speeches on behalf of the Silkworm Peace Project, which promotes healing and cultural understanding.
Imagine the damage he could have done — to himself and others — if he hadn't allowed forgiveness to transform him. Forgiveness is the foundation upon which the hope of humanity rests. Tanemori learns this. Tragically, the older son in the Parable of the Prodigal Son does not learn this.
Rather than feeling bitterness and resentment toward sinners, Jesus teaches us to embrace sinners. He joyfully accepts all who repent and all who seek to make peace with their painful, erring pasts. As Jesus preached and as Tanemori learned, in forgiveness we foster new life — a life lived in God.
Dear Lord, erase any darkness from my heart and any ill will I may have against those who offend me. I know that the path of victory is through forgiveness of others just as You forgive me. Amen.
1 Kgs 8:39
Diary of St. Faustina