When Is It Time to Forgive?
The first time it happened, I was speechless. A mother had come to the rectory. She didn’t like the answer she’d gotten from the parish school’s principal about the importance of timely tuition payments. When I gave her the same answer, she screamed at me. She called me a pedophile.
I had never been called that before. It’s happened a few times since, once by a homeless man and another time by a stranger—and the shock hasn’t worn off. Each time, my reaction has been the same. I think of the victims of sexual abuse. I think of the priests accused, the innocent and the guilty. I think of the Church. And I think about forgiveness.
The book of Genesis says that after Cain killed his brother Abel, God put an indelible mark on him to prevent him from being killed. It seems God either wanted Cain to suffer a long life of shame for his sin or have plenty of time to repent. Maybe it was both. The point is that God gave time to Cain for either to happen.