Week 5 - 13 May 2020
In one of my daily readings this morning, I found this prayer which affected me profoundly.
I would like to share it with you.
O Lord, remember not only the men and women
of good will, but also those of ill will.
But do not remember all the suffering they have inflicted on us;
remember the fruits we have bought, thanks to this suffering -
our comradeship, our loyalty, our humility, our courage,
the greatness of heart which has grown out of all this,
and when they come to judgement,
let all the fruits we have borne be their forgiveness.
This prayer was found on a piece of paper, next to the body of a child,
by a Russian soldier on May 17th 1945, in Ravensbruck concentration camp.
It must have been written by a truly Christlike soul.
The world view of Forgiveness is,
'I will forgive... when they come and apologise.' ,
and sits back feeling smug and virtuous.
That is not God's way.
He has already forgiven us all wrong doing -
past present and future - through the death of his Son on the cross.
Why, then, do we have to go to him to admit our faults, we ask?
Like any gift, while it is the hands of the giver it is of no good to the recipient.
It is only when we accept it that we can benefit from it.
Knowing that we are forgiven allows us to forgive others; we pray,
'Forgive us our sins as we forgive others who sin against us.'
If we really think about it, that's a scary thought!
Just how well do we forgive others?
If we do not forgive others we cannot grow and move forward,
the weight of bitterness, hatred and need for revenge hangs heavy.
When we forgive that burden is lifted off our hearts
and we can be free to live in relationship with God.
When we begin to take forgiveness seriously,
when we work on forgiving others who have hurt us,
we come to a point where we realise that it doesn't matter whether they have felt remorse,
apologised or changed their ways; it is irrelevant.
When we think about Christ's crucifixion or the stoning of Stephen,
we see they have one thing in common -
they forgave their murderers while the murder was being committed.
"Father, forgive them, they do not know what they are doing." (Lk 23:24).
And Stephen cried out,
"Lord, do not hold this sin against them."
as he died. (Acts 7:60)
This prayer from Ravensbruck, a killing camp for Jews and Polish Christians
brings another aspect of forgiving others and
St Paul's frequent pleading for us to take joy in our suffering.
Our attitude to suffering in times of trouble and our ability to forgive
is the greatest testimony by which we show the strength of our faith.
'Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.'
Paul wrote in his letter to the Romans (12:21 NIV).
By doing this, we can show in our lives, that nothing can separate us
from the love of God, in Jesus Christ, (Romans 8:39 NIV)
the one who died on the cross, is more powerful than anything the world can throw at us.
Mason Burge, editor of Daily prayer who brought this prayer to my attention says,
'If you doubt it, answer this question:
which was more powerful,
the Nazi killing machine which snuffed out that child's life,
or the Spirit of God, who caused this prayer to be written?'