GOD OF LIFE - LEAD US TO FORGIVENESS AND RECONCILIATION
The ecumenical calling of the Church is to build just societies by participation in the struggles of the people for human dignity. So questions of human rights are vital concerns of forgivness and reconciliation. Christian commitment to justice is deeply rooted in the prophetic biblical tradition as we find in Isaiah 1:17 “Learn to do good; seek justice”; Isaiah 2:4 “the will of the Lord for the nations of the world”, and Amos 5:24 “Justice shall roll down like waters and righteousness like an overflowing stream”
The WCC’s “Decade to Overcome Violence: Churches seeking Reconciliation and Peace” (2001-2009) was indeed a call to critically examine the Biblical basis for inter-faith relationship so as to build a culture of peace all over the world. “Peace on Earth” is the call of the Spirit addressed to all across any cultural or religious divide. The ultimate goal of peace making is to build a community of communities for the glory of God (cf. 2Cor.5:21 - “that you may become the righteousness of God”). This is possible only if the mission of the Church is geared to social amity and wholeness rooted in justice, forgiveness and reconciliation. The issue of peace in pluralistic societies particularly in Asia calls forth the evolution of just social structures for which the spirituality of religion rather than its religiosity is required. Forgiveness and reconciliatrion are to be made visible in areas of “sinned against sectors" namely violation of human rights, degradation of human dignity, gender discrimination displacement of the weaker sections in the name of development, anthro-centric attitude to life, adjusting with corruption in public life, indifference to violence and terrorism, eulogizing digital divide, neglect of social sectors, conspiracy of silence in speaking about the environmental rights and lack of transparency and accountability in public life . Forgiveness and Reconciliation have much to do in our social net-work.
There are no sectors of life without its impact. M. M. Thomas spoke of the tension between “the priestly ministry of liberating reconciliation and the prophetic ministry of liberating conflict”. And he asked, “How can we at once messengers of peace in a world of strife and messengers of strife in a world of false peace”. Jermeiah asked the same question long ago when he said, “They have treated the wound of my people carelessly, saying ,”peace, peace” when there is no peace” (Jere. 6:14). Reconciliation is possible only when justice has been achieved and those responsible for acts and structures of injustice have been brought to repentance”. What is before the church is justice over order! One should remember that wound should never be justified and justice should never be wounded.
There is no reconciliation between justice and injustice, good and evil and “God and the devil” (Konard Raiser). Struggle for justice should have priority over the work of reconciliation. Truth is the mediating term between justice and reconciliation. In the acts of solidarity with the marginalized and the oppressed of Jesus, God acts. In his suffering, God too suffers. In his resurrection, God gives us a new impetus for action. This is clearly stated in the Song of Mary. (Luke.1:46-55)
There is an ethical imperative in Ephesians 4:32. “…and be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving one another as God in Christ has forgiven you” God’s plan to create “one new man in place of two is a process in history. (Eph.2:13-15) This is quite visible in the earthly ministry of Jesus when he received “the dishonest tax collectors and other notorious sinners” (Luke 15:1-The Living Bible trans.). Church being the Eucharistic presence of the Kingdom on earth is being sent to continue the work in history so as “to gather up all things in Christ, things in heaven and things on earth”.
Liberation and Reconciliation:
Foriveness: divine in human hearts:
Church as a reconciling community:
The same idea is found in the parable of the two debtors (Matt. 18:23-32). The whole life of Jesus could be summed up in the very act of forgiving as we find in Luke 23:24 ”Father, forgive them for they know not what they do”. The marga of forgiveness is being followed down through the centuries by noble men and women. When Godse shot Mahatma Gandhi down in the gardens of Birla Mandir, Gandhi crumbled instantly “putting his hands to his forehead in the Hindu gesture of forgiveness to his assassin” (quoted from P.N.Benjamin, Viay Times 30 Jan.2006). Gladys Staines preached the greatest sermon ever heard in the missionary movements when the media sought her response after the sentence of Dara Singh and 12 accomplices: She said:” I have forgiven the killers. Nothing I say or do will bring Graham and my sons back”. She added, “Forgiving helps in the healing process”. (See The Week September 19, 2004).
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