Day 2 | Forgiveness
All praise be yours, my Lord, through those who grant pardon
For love of you, through those who endure
Sickness and trials.
Happy those who endure in peace,
By you, Most High, they will be crowned.
(Canticle of Brother Sun)
by Pat McCloskey, OFM
Saint Francis was very attentive to the needs of the world around him, including what his native city required. The verses above were added to the “Canticle of Brother Sun” when Francis heard that the mayor of Assisi and its bishop were locked in a bitter feud.
Francis wrote these verses, instructed several friars to sing them before the mayor and bishop, and then leave without saying anything else. The mayor and bishop immediately asked one another’s forgiveness for this feud and began working to improve the lives of all Assisi’s citizens.
The bishop and mayor may have been like many people who consider forgiveness a sign of weakness and not a sign of strength. When they moved toward how God sees forgiveness (a step toward greater honesty in all their relationships), then there was no fear that one side might win at the expense of the other. Forgiveness facilitates a win/win outcome.
Forgiveness does not require that people lie to themselves, for example, to deny that certain painful things have happened. But no one’s pain is the whole truth about any situation. The more honest people are, the less inflated their egos are and the less territory they feel they must defend.
Francis lived in a very status-conscious society where people frequently felt that their dignity was not being sufficiently respected. It would be nice but untrue to say that such feelings have totally disappeared today.