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Wednesday, February 02, 2011

The Anatomy of Forgiveness

Saint John Vianney spent 16 hours a day hearing confessions and through him Christ the Risen Lord healed hundreds of thousands.
Sundance this year, 2011, offered a number of films with faith and religion themes like the Redemption of General Butt Naked and Kinyranda as well as the experimental and beautiful film the Mill and the Cross. My favorite is the Redemption of General Butt Naked. This film about a Liberian Warlord who committed heinous crimes while recruiting child soldiers and later morphed into an evangelical preacher is for me a shocker.

It is shocking because the Warlord, General Butt Naked, recruited young men with his powerful and charismatic personality, convinced them that entering into battle naked protected them from bullets and was resposnbile by his own testimony for at least 20,000 civilians deaths.

One day, a visitor came to his barracks to tell him that he could be saved and forgiven. His guards claimed that they did not see the visitor come in or go out of the General's office. He began the long process of conversion, changing his heart by God's grace, leaving the civil war and renouncing violence, going before the truth and reconciliation tribuanl and confessing his crimes, going personally to as many victims and survivors as he could and asking forgiveness, and making satisfaction wherever he was able to. 

As a priest who is blessed to celebrate the sacrament of mercy and forgiveness with many members of the Body of Christ weekly I am always honored and moved by the way in which God himself brings people to sorrow and contrition for their sins, to forgiveness and confession, to taking up a penance and make satisfaction for sins, to healing and reconcilation with a firm commitment not to enter into these sins again. The whole anatomy of forgiveness which we encounter in the Prodigal Son of Luke 15 seems to be present in the lives of the penitents who have the humility to come before a priest who acts in teh person of Christ and allows the Risen Lord to forgive, heal and strengthen the person. What a gift. 

Some people questioned the sincerity of General Butt Naked's Redemption while we were at Sundance.  I may be gullible but I believe that God's mercy extends even to such a man. Praise God!

Fr. Willy

To Life, All of it!

To Life, All of it!