Saturday, April 9, 2011

Removing the Bullet of Bitterness

In Unconditional, Brian Zahnd retells the story of Pope John Paul II forgiving the man who shot him in St. Peter's Square.  The doctors removed the bullet from the pope's body, but the pope himself removed the bullet of bitterness from his heart by forgiving Ali Agca the attempted assassin.
In his hatred, Ali Agca fired bullets of hate into the body of John Paul II, and though the  bullets almost took the pope's life the hate never touched his soul.  John Paul II responded with whispered words of love and forgiveness - words that lodged in the soul of Ali Agca.  Those words seem to have transformed this troubled man.  They certainly caused multitudes around the world to ponder the possibilities of forgiveness. (page 56)
Then, on page 64 Zahnd applies that story to the rest of us:
"The only way to remove the deadly bullet from our heart is through forgiveness.  This is how you prevent yourself from becoming a victim twice over - first a victim of injustice, then as a victim of systemic bitterness...

...When you are the recipient of hate, there is always the danger that you will allow yourself to be defined and deformed by that hate. The only way of exorcising the demon of hate is through the purgative of forgiveness.  Allowing forgiveness to purge the unforgiveness in our hearts is what enables us to move beyond injustice and not be chained to it for life."