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The Courage of Forgiveness - Weekday Homily Video

The Courage of Forgiveness - Weekday Homily Video

Healing the family  |  Holy lives of inspiration

In the year 1994 in the month of April, in the country of Rwanda, over a million people were killed in a mass genocide. Tensions between two ethnic groups or economic classes exploded into a mass massacre and mass destruction of property. The country was reduced to an ugly shell of its former self and the survivors of the genocide reduced to zombies, walking around without knowing who they were, where they were, what had happened to them, and why so few people were walking around.

Neighbors had turned on their neighbors and killed them because of an ethnic or class system in their country. Fellow Catholics had turned on fellow Catholics whom they used to worship with in the same Church and killed them! Hatred had taken over love. In the neighboring country of Uganda, a twenty-year war raged that left thousands dead, massive property destroyed, and millions huddled in tents in refugee camps. Hatred had taken over love.  


Learning Forgiveness


When the war was coming to an end, something significant happened. The people in both countries made a decision – they decided that hatred is not going to triumph over love, darkness is not going to triumph over light. They decided that whoever participated in these atrocities are not going to end up in prison. We are going to bring together the perpetrators and the victims of these crimes to sit under the shade of a big tree or in a classroom, and talk through what had happened, establish the truth, work towards healing of both of the victims and the perpetrators of these crimes. In Rwanda they established what they call the Gacaca system, in Uganda they established what is called the Mato Oput system to deal with human brokenness. People in both places were able to process the difficult matters in their communities, and the places are now quiet and peaceful. It was one of the most courageous acts I have ever seen in my life. A people who suffered extreme persecution listening to the prompting of God’s spirit to reach out to their persecutors and bring healing to themselves.  


Heavenly Mercy


In our First Reading today from the Acts of the Apostles, we hear Saul a great persecutor of the disciples of Christ, “still breathing threats and murder against the disciples” of Jesus on his way to Damascus. Jesus appeared to him and knocked him off his horse. Jesus ordered Ananias, one of the very people Saul wanted to arrest and kill, to go to Saul and pray for him. Ananias was clear to the Lord about the circumstances, “Lord I have heard about this man, how much evil he has done to your people. He is in town to arrest all who believe in you.” But the Lord convinced Ananias to go pray for Saul. He did, and Saul became Paul and a great evangelizer.   


How the people in both Rwanda and Uganda handled the difficult war situations and how Ananias handled the situation of Saul defies all human logic, it is totally unreasonable, it is scary – yet when the people in these different contexts listened to the promptings of God’s spirit in these difficult circumstances, the results were unbelievable – a healing happened, a great conversion happened.   


The Call to Forgiveness


Is there a family member, a neighbor, a co-worker, who has mistreated you  or hurt you so much that you almost lost your mind, your peace, your health, or your career? Have you ever considered forgiveness just like Jesus did on the Cross, Ananias did, or the people in the two communities I mentioned did? Let us ask for God’s grace to learn to forgive, to work for our own healing and the healing of our persecutors. May peace and harmony come into our hearts and the hearts of perpetrators of hurt, and violence.

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About Father Fred Jenga, C.S.C.

Father Fred Jenga, C.S.C. is the President of Holy Cross Family Ministries. Father Fred, a native of Uganda, has multiple degrees including theology, philosophy, and communications. His native language is Lusoga and he speaks English, Luganda, Kiswahili, and Rutooro. He has been a teacher, researcher, author and family minister. Father Fred is committed to helping build God’s masterpiece one family at a time.