One day, a woman about Jane’s age comes in needing clothing and will have no money until the following week. Jane quickly gets her outfitted with everything she needs. At the register, the woman is adamant about paying, so Jane tells her to make a future donation in lieu of payment. This touches the woman greatly. She tallies up the items for record purposes and listens as the woman tells her own faith story. The woman knows about St Vincent de Paul because she was raised Catholic, but she’s been to many churches. She knows all churches say God loves you, but some talk more about the devil than they do about God. She goes on to say that many churches talk about forgiveness, but many people don’t know what real forgiveness is. She shares her own experience of forgiving someone and how important it is to do so. Jane realizes her own inability to forgive small things and asks the woman how she is able to. The woman explains that she read the crucifixion story and discovered that Jesus didn’t talk to his executioners, but prayed for the Father to forgive them. She believes Jesus did this because he couldn’t bring himself to forgive them at the time. She says this is how she forgives, by praying for God to do it since she can’t.
Like Jane, I struggle with forgiving others. There is one person in particular who I’ve struggled to forgive for many years. Every time I pray the Our Father, I hear the phrase that the woman teaches Jane about: Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. There are times I don’t know how to forgive or don’t want to because I am hurting. In these times, perhaps I should try the woman’s strategy of asking God to forgive. I pray that God will give me the grace to keep working on forgiveness.
- Why do you think the woman wanted so badly to pay for her clothing?
- Who do you need to forgive? Could the woman’s philosophy help you do that?
- When has an unlikely person taught you a profound lesson?