Monday, April 03, 2006


Yesterday was Communion Sunday at church. So this story I picked up from TIME (Europe) was of particular interest.

Who didn't feel sympathy for the Rev. Julie Nicholson when she announced her resignation as parish priest of St. Aidan with St. George in Bristol, England,last week? The Anglican vicar lost her 24-year-old daughter Jenny in last July's London terrorist bombings. In a breathtakingly candid interview with the BBC, Nicholson said she was stepping down because she could not forgive the suicide bomber. "I rage that a human being could choose to take another human's life. I rage that someone should do this in the name of a god," she said.

But mixed in with compassion and understanding was a niggling sense that Nicholson had somehow failed. For Christians, forgiveness is, if not a spiritual duty, then at least a much-preached-about aspiration. Nicholson hinted at the conflict herself. "I have always been very in awe and humbled by those who stand up and say from a faith perspective, 'I forgive'," she said. But Nicholson decided that there are some things in life "unforgivable by the human spirit." So, she confessed, "it is very difficult for me to celebrate the Eucharist and lead people in words of peace and reconciliation and forgiveness, when I feel very far from that myself." [More]

Rev. Nicholson’s remarkable confession about her inability to forgive is a painful reminder that forgiveness is easier said than practiced. I think her honesty is to be applauded. I do not know anyone for whom forgiving came easy – not for me it isn’t, too - more so when the life of a loved one is violently taken away. How would I respond if I were in her shoes, losing a daughter to a suicide bomber?

Too many of us participate too glibly in the Eucharist that such issues of the heart are overlooked without a thought. Her resignation also drew attention to the importance she placed on matching doctrine and deed, so that sacrament comes alive in a genuine public declaration before church and God. I also think it reminds us how extraordinary the whole idea of forgiveness is, how truly amazing the very thought of grace is.

Forgiving means to pardon the unpardonable and loving means to love the unlovable. Or it is no virtue at all. G.K Chesterton

1 comment:

Adrian Choo said...

Forgiveness is not easy. Yet, it is a commandment for us to forgive. I nearly lost someone in the 7/7 bombings too ... i lost contact with her for a week. If you spoke to me during that week; you would be speaking to someone seeking revenge and retribution. Looking back, I thank God I was spared the choice to go down that dark path.