I don’t know how he got there so quickly, but he did. Last week, Pierce O’Farrill was shot three times in Aurora, Colorado at the Batman movie. Yesterday, he forgave the assassin who tried to kill him, and unfortunately did kill 12 other people. In a radio interview, he said, “Yes, I do forgive him, and I’d like to talk to him.”
How do you do that? Forgiveness is hard. Remember the scene of the Amish families in 2006 after a gunman killed five schoolgirls and wounded five more? The Amish families in Pennsylvania not only forgave the killer but reached out with mercy and compassion to help his wife in the aftermath.
In my upcoming book, Everybody Needs to Forgive Somebody, I share the powerful stories of 11 real people who model this centerpiece of the faith. Forgiveness. Forgiveness that replaces hate with love. Forgiveness that offers a second chance and redemption in a broken relationship. Forgiveness that frees the wounded from carrying the poison of resentment.
I will always remember Sister Leonella Sgorbati, a missionary nun who was in Somalia exploring ways to offer health care and hope to desperately poor children there. As she was walking down the street, two Islamic gunmen leapt from a taxi and shot her in the back, ending her 30 years of compassionate service to children in Africa. She uttered the two most powerful words in human history as they rushed her to the hospital: “I forgive, I forgive, I forgive.”
Forgiveness alone offers great hope for the broken human heart. And for the world.