Great healing

Peace, experience tells us, only happens when both sides to a quarrel feel they have got what they wanted. The difference between the peace that ended the First World War and that which ended the second was that the former left one side bitter and resentful while the latter basically tried to address the fears and hopes of all sides.

And we have learnt from this. Agreements that have ended conflicts in the recent past – South Africa, Northern Ireland – while giving ‘victory’ to one side have tried to reassure the other that their interests will not suffer. The dynamic that underpins these achievements is the effort to face the truth. It was painful for people in South Africa to come forward and say what they did or what was done to them. But their effort brought healing.

Catholics have a practice of telling (confessing)what they have done to a priest. It is an act of faith to believe that a priest stands in the place of God and can absolve (unbind) a person from their fault. But before it is an act of faith it is good psychology. The act of telling another person what I have done has a liberating effect. This is the dynamic behind truth commissions. The second chapter of Mark opens with a dramatic demonstration of this. Up till then Jesus had been curing the sick and the disabled. But suddenly there is a shift. First we are told ‘some people’ go to extraordinary lengths to get a paralytic to Jesus and then we learn that Jesus’seeing their faith’ addresses the man in terms of forgiveness. This causes a greater stir than all the cures of chapter 1. This is the ‘new deed’ Isaiah spoke of (Ch. 43).

Forgiveness is one of the most beautiful human realities. It literally gives back life to a person. And yet people often find it so difficult. They fall out with one another. Marriages falter. Friendships end. Often the issue is quite small. But even if it is big, forgiveness is possible.

The hard part is that forgiveness must not ‘cover over’ the hurt. The truth has to be acknowledged. I have to say what it is that hurts and the other person has to be prepared to listen. And then the roles can be reversed and I do the listening. There is great healing in this. – Ngomakurira

Post published in: Opinions & Analysis

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