Being invited and participating in Protestant worship, we had chance to reflect upon Paul’s conversion of the road to Damascus. Having been kicked out of the Catholic Church and unforgiven, I find much heart in Paul’s story.
As you may know, Saul grapples with his dawning realization that his life, though lived in zeal for the one true God even to the point of persecuting the church, has in reality been one of “ignorance in unbelief” (1 Tim 1:13). He begins to see that in proving his commitment to God by persecuting the church, he has actually been proving himself an enemy of God. As Saul deeply considers that “why?” and accepts the divine perspective on his actions, his whole spiritual world will be turned upside down. What was a badge of honor will become a lifelong shameful blot on his character.
The subsequent blindness shows Saul the spiritual bankruptcy of his pre-Christian condition. In the end, Ananias healing and addresses Saul as a brother. Thus at the end, the healing and the laying on of hands are linked. And those who are healed can take full physical restoration and nourishment.
Few of us have has a dramatic public conversion experience as Paul, yet full acceptance of the change and forgiveness can be very dramatic for all. Secondly, Ananias followed the Lord’s request to forgive. And third, no life is useless or too far gone for God. He has a purpose for all of us and can forgive us no matter what if we are willing to ask for His forgiveness and accept it as His gift to us. What miracle life might He have in store for you.
In Buddhism, forgiveness, kindness and unconditional love towards others are three central aspects which are emphasized. I went to my former Church, my pastor and former lover to request forgiveness. I submitted myself to public humiliation, but was granted none.
But in Buddhism, when you forgive me for harming you, you decide not to retaliate, to seek no revenge. You don’t have to like me. You simply unburden yourself of the weight of resentment and cut the cycle of retribution that would otherwise keep us ensnarled in an ugly samsaric wrestling match. This is a gift you can give us both, totally on your own, without my having to know or understand what you’ve done.
The 5 moral responsibilities I understand are:
- I always responsible for our conscious choices.
- I must always put myself in the other person’s place.
- All beings are worthy of respect.
- I will regard those who point out my faults as if they were pointing out treasure
- There are no — repeat, no — higher purposes than the basic precepts of ethical behavior.
As you walk, be like Ananias, please forgive and call me a brother. Call all who seek forgiveness your brother. Miracles do happen.