Forgiveness Is the Secret of Peace
In 1994, a terrible genocide occurred in the African country of Rwanda. Extremist members of the more numerous Hutu tribe inflamed hatred and violence toward the much smaller Tutsi tribe. It was almost as if the Hutu “community organizers” had taken their cue from Saul Alinsky’s insidious 1971 book, Rules for Radicals: “The organizer must… rub raw the resentments of the people… fan the latent hostility to the point of overt expression.” And “If the ends don’t justify the means, what does?”
Over a three month period, from April 7 to July 15, it is estimated that over one million Tutsis, and those Hutus who had tried to protect or defend them, were killed. The Tutsis suffered terrible atrocities: babies cut in half, limbs severed, sexual assault, family members and friends hacked to death. When it was over, many traumatized Tutsi survivors were consumed with mistrust, hatred and a desire for revenge.
A Catholic priest, Fr. Ubald Rugirangoga, whose mother had been killed in the genocide, knew that hatred and revenge were not the answer. From the cross Jesus had said “Father, forgive them…” He had said “…if you will not forgive men, neither will your Father forgive your offenses.” (Mat 6:15) He taught us to pray: “…forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us…” St. Stephen forgave those who stoned him to death.
So Fr. Ubald preached forgiveness to the victims and repentance to the guilty perpetrators. At one such event, a man approached Fr. Ubald and said that he was responsible for the death of Fr. Ubald’s mother. It was a moment of great inner anguish for Fr. Ubald, but then he said to this man: “In the name of Jesus, I forgive you,” and went further when he helped pay for the schooling of this man’s children. In this way, Fr. Ubald fostered reconciliation between the Tutsi and Hutu and brought healing to his country. Some of the individual stories of reconciliation are nothing short of miraculous. “Forgiveness” he said, “is the secret of peace.”
At Christmas we celebrate the coming of the Prince of Peace into the world. If we follow the prescriptions of Jesus: love God, love your neighbor, “pick up your cross daily and follow Me,” He has told us that we will have peace in our lives and act as a leaven toward a more peaceful and just society, and may with confidence look forward to eternal fellowship and peace in His Heavenly Kingdom. If there is anyone we need to forgive, or ask forgiveness from, now is a good time to reconcile as best we can.
“And suddenly, there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying ‘Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace among men of good will.’” (Luke 2:13-14)
Fr. Ubald died in 2021. He was 65 years old. His work is now being carried on by The Center for The Secret of Peace (www.secretofpeace.com). This month your station will air a documentary about Fr. Ubald and his effort to bring hope and healing to his nation. It is called “Forgiveness: The Secret of Peace.”
We who volunteer for St. Michael Broadcasting hope that, by bringing the Word to you through our programming, you are inspired to bring “tidings of comfort and joy” to all you meet. That is the spirit of Christmas. I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to all the volunteers at St. Michael Broadcasting: those who film, edit, post events on 14.1, screen programs, set the schedule, schedule the programs, manage our website, come up with movies to air, manage our computers, pay the bills, send out thank you notes, provide accounting services and help with the monthly mailings. I would like to thank the viewers who make this station part of their lives, and who support the station through your prayers, financial support and by making the station more widely known.
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Blessed Advent and Merry Christmas! Venite Adoremus!