A reading from the Acts of the Apostles 13:13-25
.... (13:13)"From Paphos, Paul and his companions set sail and arrived at Perga in Pamphylia. But John left them and returned to Jerusalem.".....
The attempted assassination of Pope John Paul II took place on Wednesday May 13, 1981, in St Peter’s Square in Vatican City. Mehmet Ali Agca shot the Pope 4 times. Many of us remember the pictures and the news flashes. The Pope attributed his 'escape from death' to Our Lady of Fatima as this assassination attempt took place on the anniversary of her first apparition in Fatima. The Pope placed the one bullet that narrowly missed his heart in our Lady's crown on May 13, 1982 in Fatima.
Mr Agca was sentenced to life in prison. In 1983 Pope John Paul II visited him in prison and forgave him. He was paroled to Turkey and eventually released from prison on January 18, 2010. On December 28, 2014, he returned to the Vatican to lay white flowers at the tomb of St John Paul II (canonized on April 27, 2013). This visit came 31 years to the day that the Pope forgave him for the attempt on his life.
Back to 60 AD, St Paul is with his missionary companions, Barnabas and John Mark. John Mark lost heart in the work and left them and returned to Jerusalem. But when John Mark wanted to rejoin them later on, St Paul did not want someone who had let him down already, so he refused John Mark. Barnabas and John Mark left St Paul. Years later we find John Mark as the constant companion of St Paul and St Paul writes of his deep consolation to him during his imprisonment. Within a few years John Mark (St Mark) and St Paul were friends and were effective partners in their work.
What can we learn from these two stories?
Forgiveness is a gift from God.
Forgiveness is a slow process.
Forgiveness is an act of the will.
We forgive because God has forgiven us.
Forgiveness takes courage.
Forgiveness is the essence of being a Christian.
Forgiveness gives us the power to love.
God sometimes gives us the grace to forgive immediately.
God moves our hearts to forgiveness; we cannot do this by ourselves.
Forgiveness will not result in forgetting.
("Facing Forgiveness-a Catholic's Guide to Letting Go of Anger and Welcoming Reconciliation", Loughlan Sofield, S.T., Carroll Juliano, S.H.C.J., Bishop Gregory M Aymond 2007, Ave Maria Press)
May our priests remind us that God loves us despite of our shortcomings. May we remember that God forgives us with the same measure we forgive. " Forgiveness is above all a personal choice, a decision of the heart to go against the natural instinct to pay back evil with evil." (St John Paul II)