Police officer Steven McDonald was buried on January 13th. In 1986 he approached a group of teen-agers in Central Park, New York, to ask about bicycle thefts. An innocent inquiry, but a 15-year-old, Shavod Jones responded by pulling out a gun and shooting officer McDonald three times. He was paralyzed from his neck down. For the rest of his life, he breathed with a respirator, used a motorized wheelchair, and traveled in a specially equipped van.
At the time of the shooting, his wife was pregnant and in time gave birth to son Conor. “When Conor was baptized in 1987, Officer McDonald asked her to read a statement declaring that he forgave his attacker and hoped that Mr. Jones could ‘find peace and purpose in his life.’” Monsignor Seamus O’Boyle said, “We all know how amazing that statement was, how important it was for the streets of this city.”
That’s a thought-provoking statement. How is your forgiveness toward others important to the well-being of your community? Does forgiveness extend beyond the walls of your Sunday sanctuary?
According to New York City police Commissioner James P. O’Neill, Officer McDonald often said “the only thing worse than taking a bullet to the spine would have been nurturing revenge in his heart.” Forgiveness is not only your duty, and it is your duty, forgiveness is healthy because it gets the poison of resentment and bitterness out of your soul. “If you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:15). Let it go. The good that results will be your joy. (New York Times, January 14, 2017; A17).