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Saturday, April 16, 2016

Re-setting relationships

Joyce Sasse, Spiritual Gleanings

While we were talking about how Canada’s Commission on Truth and Reconciliation touches us, our Zimbabwean minister related a story from South Africa.

At the “end” of apartheid, all South African citizens were invited to make confession of their involvement in racist activities.

One man, who worked for the Secret Service, killed another man because he was an activist. But it was actually because of the colour of the victim’s skin.


The Truth Commission had declared that anyone who confessed his wrong-doing would not be criminally charged, but would have to face those whom he had victimized.

The Secret Agent made his confession, and was sent to face the mother of the young man he had killed. It was not easy.

The first thing she asked of him was where is my son’s body buried – so that I may give those remains a proper burial.

Second, she turned to him, held out her arms and said I want you to become like a son to me so that I can give to you what I could not give to him! (Note: not so that he could take care of her, but so that she might give to him …)

Her act of generosity was so overwhelming for them both that their lives were changed. Forgiveness can do strange things.

The story took me back to my Old Testament class. We were studying the passage about “the sins of the fathers” being visited onto the sons to the third and fourth generations. But our Hebrew professor carefully pointed out the common misunderstanding. While there are those who affirm we are forever condemned because of the misdeeds of our ancestors, there is a tiny syntax phrase here which implies we must add “only until” the third generation (as compared with the tens of generations that make up our future.)

As we consider our own role in Reconciliation between peoples, may it be so that we can re-set our relationships as we move into a new day.

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