Sunday, 2 March 2008
Peace ...be Reconcilled
Father O'Malley was pastor of a small parish in Grass Valley, California. One evening while he was preparing his homily for the coming Sunday, his telephone rang.
The weather was stormy, and all the electrical lines were down. A voice on the other end of the telephone said, "Fr. O'Malley, I am calling from the local hospital and we have a terminally ill patient here who is asking to see a priest about the last rites, can you come quickly?"The trip was 30 miles, the going was rough as trees and power lines were down.
The nurse met Fr. O'Malley at the door, and thanked him for coming. The person who wants to see you, Father, is an alcoholic, but he is still coherent but is slipping fast. Fr. O'Malley asked the nurse what the patients name was. She answered, the hospital calls him Tom.
Fr. O'Malley went into Tom's room and said to Tom, "I was just passing thru and thought I would visit you before you sleep.""Don't give me any of that garbage", Tom replied, "I asked that nurse to call someone to give me the last rites because I know my time is done and its my turn to go. Now get with it.""Would you like to make a confession?" the priest asked Tom.
"Absolutely not" Tom answered. They talked for a long time and occasionally Father would ask Tom if he was ready for confession. After some time Tom told Father that he had done something in his life that was with him every day and he did not feel that God would forgive him.
Finally after some time, Tom agreed to tell the priest his story. "Thirty-two years ago, two months and eleven days ago, I was working for the railroad. It happened in a bad storm. It was two days before Christmas and the whole crew was drunk. Someone had to go out and push the switch for the train to go northbound. I guess I was more drunk than the rest because I pushed the switch in the wrong direction.
At 45 miles per hour the freight train slammed into a passenger car at the end of the next crossing and killed a young man, his wife, and their two daughters. I have had to live with that all of my life," Tom said.
There was a moment of silence as Tom's confession of this tragedy hung in the air. After what seemed like an eternity, Fr. O'Malley gently put his hand on Tom's shoulder and said very quietly. "If I can forgive you, God can forgive you, because in that car were my mother, my father and my two sisters.
Do we still find it difficult to forgive anyone?