Yitzak Rabin was Israel’s 5th Prime Minister. On November 4, 1995 he was assassinated after attending a Peace Rally. Two bullets hit his chest. He was rushed to the hospital but died on the operating table due to loss of blood. Nurses found a blood-stained paper on his chest pocket containing the lyrics of the famous Israeli song of peace.
All his life, Rabin was a soldier and military leader. He was a brilliant planner and strategist. He hated and fought the Arabs all his life. Slowly, he became military Chief of Staff and Prime Minister. But on his 2nd term as Prime Minister, he realized that hatred and fighting were vain. He got tired of fighting. Hatred only continued the cycle of violence and blood-shed. He saw that the only way to peace was forgiveness!
In 1993, he negotiated with the famous Palestinian Liberation Organization Leader, Yasser Arafat. The year after, in 1994, they made the historic hand-shake. Both leaders began the process of peace. But not everybody was happy. Eventually it brought about his assassination.
The Gospel brings out the lesson on forgiveness. Peter asks Jesus: how many times will he forgive an erring brother, seven times? But Jesus demands: not seven times… but seventy times seven times. This means: many times. Always. Endless!
There are three reasons why forgiveness is important:
1. Forgiveness is Powerful. By keeping anger, hatred and resentment in your heart, you enemy has power over you. You allow your enemy to control you. But forgiveness sets you free. Forgiveness is power because it can change your life; it can change the world. Jesus broke the cycle of hate and built a civilization of forgiveness and love.
2. Forgiveness is Healthy. We know Tom Cruise as a very successful actor. He has the looks, money and fame. We think he’s got everything. Yet he also had a sad story to tell. He grew up in poverty with an abusive father dominating the family. Because his mother had three jobs and was too busy providing for her family, he was dyslexic (not able to read). Yet Tom did not let these limitations define his life. He moved on. It is told that when his dad was dying, he asked forgiveness for his past. But he had already forgiven him a long time ago. He chose the way to freedom; he chose the way to peace. Forgiveness allows us to move on without anger or contempt. A writer said: if you have revenge in your heart, you are actually digging two grave – for your enemy and for yourself!
3. Forgiveness is Divine. We often hear it said: “to err is human; to forgive is divine. Forgiveness makes us noble. It makes us share God’s extraordinary quality – it makes us godly.
Jesus challenges us to become channels and instruments of his mercy and compassion by practicing unconditional forgiveness.