“today God [ Allah] has put your enemy into your power; so now let me pin him to the ground with his own spear; just one stroke! [ just one road-side land mine ] I will not need to strike him twice.” ..would you be for welcoming Shamima Begum, the Islamic State bride & mother, back into the UK?.. we wholeheartedly condemn acts of murder & atrocity as crimes against God & against humanity, & yet before we take the moral high ground, let us acknowledge the times we attempt character assassination , bespoiling our enemies reputation & good standing, for our own personal gain, self defensive protection or, far worse, out of cold & calculated vengeance..
“..do not kill him, for who can lift his hand against the Lord’s anointed & be without guilt?” ; Lord have mercy “..no one saw, no one knew, no one woke up..” except you Lord.. ; Christ have mercy “..the Lord repays everyone for his uprightness & loyalty..” ; Lord have mercy May Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins & bring us to everlasting life. Amen.
“..are you sitting comfortably? then I’ll begin..” words of Daphne Oxenford on Listen with Mother BBC radio 1950 -1982..”I say this to you who are listening” gospel is hardly Listen with Mother territory; Jesus addresses the few or the many? of the full gathering who were listening, who were openminded openhearted & courageous enough to listen, whilst others too hurt wounded or comfortable to hear the constant toll of the bell /call to forgive; forgive our enemies, those who injure us, inflict life threatening, life changing injuries..& why forgive? why try to forgive the unforgivable? why allow Shamima Begum to return home? simply because our leader Our Lord asks it of us; he did it at great cost to himself on the Cross “Father forgive them for they know not what they do” it came, I suggest, because Our Lord learned hard way how to forgive his greatest enemy .. not Pilate Judas nor Herod but himself..he’d lost faith self confidence self worth & self love as his ministry leaked out into failure & despair..for all he asked of his disciples, he struggled to do it himself & for himself..he knew bitterness of injury rejection bigotry discrimination isolation “you will have a great reward [& I will have a great reward ] & you will be sons/daughters of the Most High, for he himself is kind to the ungrateful & the wicked”..did BBC news images of Shamima show genuine remorse & a willingness to engage in penitential deradicalisation?..”Father take this cup of suffering from me” the first Gethsemane when his enemies got their way & Jesus was trapped in detention centre of Holy Thursday, in a garden of despair; nothing left no one left; a world full of enemies or at best the neutral/indifferent who, when Jesus needed them like never before, walked away or fell asleep..at that moment, the “now” moment as Pope Francis called it at World Youth Day last month, he gave up..he self-emptied a kenosis moment..when he could no longer pray nor forgive..others or himself..Holy Spirit got inside him like never before, no obstacles self esteem nor independence left “let it be as you not I would have have it” Holy Spirit breathed new life into him..”love your enemies, do good, lend without hope of return..””today the Lord put you into my power, but I would not raise my hand against the Lord’s anointed”..1985 Servite priest Fr Lawrence Jenco was working with Catholic Relief Services in Beirut confronted by 6 Shi’ite gunmen bundled into car..he spent 594 days in captivity..initial 6mths in isolation chained by one leg he could move only 3ft..at feeding times captors approached him from behind & covered his eyes with dirty rag; for months he never saw a face..”I willed myself to live; days unbearable depression, & then there’d be this tremendous sense of hope that I would be set free” he’d been pro-Shi’ite “I felt they were the group with the deepest need; my relationship with them not easy; I felt sympathy for them even while I held hostage.” he kept track of time, marking days with saliva in dust of his prison walls,marking months with knots tied in a potato sack. After few months he was allowed a bible but not his spectacles; unable to read a word, until another hostage, a fellow priest, moved in with him & Jenco was able to share his glasses His faith was crucial to his survival; it never wavered but he admitted telling God “I’m not Job; I want to go home now” he saw stars for first time in 19months night before his release when he was taken out onto roof of prison where he thought they were to kill him. By this time his captors called him “Father”; one asked for forgiveness for first 6months of solitary confinement, & Jenco in his turn “asked his forgiveness for moments when I had anger & hate towards him” day before release his guards said “Father forgive us, we know not what we do” Jenco did forgive but “I don’t believe that forgetting is one of the signs of forgiveness. I forgive, but I remember. I do not forget the pain, loneliness, the ache & terrible injustice. But I do not remember to inflict some future retribution.” 594 days waiting for moment of release from captivity..not captivity of prison but his closed heart..so is there an unforgivable sin?..yes, to refuse to believe that even worst of sins is forgiveable..especially in the prisoner you hold in a custodial sentence..until “now”..this now moment, no longer “listen with mother” but“to listen with father” to forgive & to remember.. [7thSunYrC;Lk6;27-38]