"To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you." - Lewis B. Smedes
December 27th, 2014, Mehmet Ali Agca came to the Vatican to place flowers at the tomb of Pope John Paul II. Although one of thousands, Agca’s visit is remarkable because 30 years earlier, his bullet missed striking Pope John Paul’s aorta by a few millimeters. December 27th was not the anniversary of this professional assassin’s murder attempt; it is the anniversary of the day that Pope John Paul II came to visit Agca in prison. The day the Pope took his hand and told him that he was “sincerely forgiven.”
Agca did not want the Pope’s forgiveness that day. Few seek forgiveness for their transgressions small or large as pride, fear and shame eclipse openness and its vulnerability. And yet, forgiveness must still be given. For as Theologian Lewis B. Smedes and Pope John Paul II remind us, forgiveness frees the one who was wronged, regardless of its effect on the transgressor.
Radical forgiveness is not just the territory of wouldbe saints. It has saved many of the wronged from a lifetime of spite; a lifetime that might have been wasted, imprisoned, by resentment. Each time you are wronged, your needs disregarded, it is an opportunity to be generous. That moment of forgiveness and generosity, not only frees you from the wasted energy of a grudge, but also frees the world from another useless cycle of hatred.
So forgive. Make your life better and make the world a better place.