By Fr. Adolf Washington –
Erich Remarque’s book, All Quiet on the Western Front relates a remarkable encounter between two enemy soldiers during the Second World War. During battle a German soldier took shelter in crater made by artillery shells. Looking around he saw a man wounded, an enemy soldier. He was dying.
The German soldier’s heart went out to him. He gave him water from his canteen and listened as the dying man spoke of his wife and children. The German helped him find his wallet and take out pictures of his family to look at one last time.
In that encounter these two men ceased to be enemies. The German had seen the wounded soldier in a new way. Not as an enemy combatant but as a father, a husband, someone who loves and is loved. He was someone just like him.
We can always find a path of peace and reconciliation when we learn to look into the life of people who could be hurtful and recognize something in ourselves.
Jesus often sought to show people the path to peace and reconciliation in the light of God’s unconditional love and forgiveness. He said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy. But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.” He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous (Mathew 5:43-45).
Jesus even cautioned on the futility of our worship and religious practices when we do not forgive. He said, “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift “ (Mathew 5:23-24).
The truth is there is no love without forgiveness and no forgiveness without love. Forgiving others, especially when the hurts run deep is not easy but always possible. Jesus filled with great love forgave his executioners even as he hung upon the cross.
Count each day the number of enemies you made friends with by forgiving and you will experience the real joy of life. Make forgiveness a habit.