Wednesday, June 17, 2009
In October of 2006, a tragic incident occurred in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. A man walked into an Amish school and shot ten young schoolchildren. The story was published in newspapers around the world. On the afternoon of the shooting, the Amish grandfather of one of the children expressed forgiveness towards the killer. That same day Amish neighbors visited the killers family to comfort them. The Amish culture follows the teaching of Jesus, that one must always forgive, in any circumstance. In our society, this reaction is (almost always) unheard of. I remember reflecting on this story, how much I had to learn about forgiveness. The Amish have so much to teach us.
Today, out of Kathmandu, we hear another moving story about forgiveness. Yes, forgiveness is possible, in any circumstance. The folowing article was published in "Agenzia Fides" online.
A Christian testimony of forgiveness in the aftermath of the Cathedral bombing
Kathmandu (Agenzia Fides) – Balan Joseph Palamootil, Catholic layman of Indian background who was wounded in the attack on the Assumption Cathedral in Kathmandu on May 23 of this year (see Fides 25/5/2009), forgave in Jesus' name the woman (Sita Thapa Shrestha) who carried out this terrible atrocity, meeting with her in the police station near the site of the bombing, where she has been taken into custody.
Balan's life changed following the tragic attack that killed his wife and daughter, yet he had the strength to forgive. “When I saw Sita, I was reminded of the story of Saint Paul, who persecuted Christians and I thought of how Sita might also have this same experience of conversion. So, I conveyed Christ's message of love and forgiveness to her,” says Balan, a native of Kerala (India).
Balan gave his testimony in public during a celebration that was recently held in the Cathedral, in the presence of many faithful who gathered to pray for the victims and for peace in Nepal.
The man told his story to Christians of other denominations, declaring his decision to remain in Nepal, where he came as a migrant 20 years ago, to work for peace and reconciliation.
Balan also said he will continue dedicating his life to his other two children, taking care of his family and all those whom he will meet, offering his testimony of a Christian life, following Christ as a layman. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 12/6/2009)
* Image of "Amish Church" is from "webshots."