The FISHERS Magazine (Issue 186)
Then Peter came to Him and said, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?" Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven."
The New York Times once described a moving incident in a Long Island courtroom, when the victim of an assault brought healing to her assailant. The article was headlined "A Moment of Grace", and dated 17 August, 2005. In it, the journalist reflected on the unexpectedness of this act with words like "undeserved gift", and "startling and luminous".
A 19-year-old boy, Ryan Cushing, had been charged with assault for recklessly throwing a turkey through a car windshield. He was one of six teenagers out for a night of joy riding and credit-card crime. This brutal culpable act which nearly killed 44-year old Ms Victoria Ruvolo would easily have earned him 25 years in prison, as the prosecutor Thomas Spota would have sought. He said, "This is not an act of mere stupidity. They're not 9 or 7-year-old children."
Ms Ruvolo sustained suffered injuries and underwent painful and lengthy surgery to restore her broken facial bones. But she withheld a retributive spirit and instead actively insisted that Mr Cushing be allowed to plea bargain. The judge that day in the courtroom sentenced him to six months' jail and five years' probation.
When Mr. Cushing came face to face with his victim for the first time, he apologised and begged her forgiveness. The article reported that she did. "She cradled his head as he sobbed. She stroked his face and patted his back. 'It's O.K.; it's O.K.,' she said. 'I just want you to make your life the best it can be.' "
It goes on further to assess the impact of that totally unconditional act of grace. "Given the opportunity for retribution, Ms. Ruvolo gave and got something better: the dissipation of anger and the restoration of hope, in a gesture as cleansing as the tears washing down her damaged face, and the face of the foolish, miserable boy whose life she single-handedly restored."
Seldom in a situation like this do we see such high points in moral acts by men. All too often, whether by design of the law or a conscious act of will, the full weight of punishment and restitution is imposed on the perpetrator.
We do not know the motives of Ms Ruvolo for forgiving Mr Cushing, nor are we told how Mr Cushing has used this opportunity he has been given, but it illustrates, if only dimly, the eternal act of grace that God our Heavenly Father planned and executed on the cross with. The forgiveness of God did not come cheap; it was bought by the blood of His one and only begotten and beloved Son, on men and women who least deserved it.
Dear reader, do you know your own sins and how they have earned the full wrath of God? Have you sought the Father's forgiveness?
Tong Min Way