Forgiveness that the Gospel makes possible

February 15, 2013 by  
Filed under newsletter-miscellaneous

One of the world’s greatest actresses is Susan Sarandon.
In 1995 she won the Oscar for Best Actress in the film Dead Man Walking.

Susan Sarandon

It is the gripping portrayal of an American nun Sister Helen Prejean who ministers to the men on death row.
But that powerful film only tells half the story and left out the best part!

Dead Man Walking is about the inherent dignity of even a hardened criminal.
Like many films and newspapers it concentrates on the criminal, not the victim.

But the story of the victim is even greater, depicting the uniquely Christian message of forgiveness.
The true story is how sixteen-year-old Debbie Morris was on a date with her boyfriend, Mark.

sixteen-year-old Debbie Morris

One Friday evening while having milkshakes two strangers put a revolver to Mark’s head.
Their night out turned into several hours of torture, rape, and attempted murder.

They shot Mark leaving him for dead. Debbie was repeatedly raped and deeply wounded.
When the two men were captured, one, Robert Willie was sentenced to die for his crimes.


He eventually admitted to several murders, including butchering another girl.
But Debbie’s anguish did not end when Willie was sentenced to die.

Robert Willie

Despite those who urged her to “get on with her life,” her emotional ordeal continued.
Debbie could not find true healing until she was able to comprehend and forgive those two men.

As Debbie writes in her book, “Forgiving the Dead Man Walking”, “Justice doesn’t really heal all the wounds.”
It was only when Debbie found the grace to forgive Robert Willie, the day he was executed, that she finally knew release from suffering herself.

Forgiving the dead man walking

She found forgiveness from Christ for herself and those who had injured her.
In prayer – for herself and for Willie – she discovered that only God’s grace is sufficient to bind up the wounds of the human heart.

Forgiveness is much more than telling ourselves that an offense just doesn’t matter anymore.
On the contrary, forgiveness recognizes the debt for what it is.

And it doesn’t just liberate the debtor from his debt – it transforms the heart of the one who forgives.

In fact, forgiveness is an imitation of God’s own act of forgiveness on the Cross.

By forsaking the justice we are owed, we recognize that we, have been forgiven a debt we can never repay.
That is why true forgiveness is a scandal to the secular mind.

Secular society has nothing that resembles the forgiveness that the Gospel makes possible, what Debbie Morris experienced.

Debbie Morris


– fwd: samuel machado

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