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"I'm sorry." is not enough.

Michelle has some good thoughts on Justice and Forgiveness.

The prosecutor's argument for sentencing:

"In this situation the state must look beyond the feelings only of the individuals who are most directly impacted by this event," Fisher told the judge. "Society has an interest in what is done beyond the feelings of the victims."

Forgiveness should not mean walking away from justice. This is not one man's crime against another man. This is one man's crime against society by breaking its laws.

This is something I think is all too often lost in discussion of crime and punishment. Justice is not retribution or vengeance. It is the fair and appropriate response that keeps a community ordered and civilized.

As a mother, I have had the situation where a child has disobeyed. Perhaps the offense seemed very personal, for example lying to me. Not only has my child broken a rule, but his offense strikes at my heart since it is a betrayal of my love for him. Now once my child sees the great pain he has caused, he can become extremely remorseful. He can tearfully beg for forgiveness and profess his love for me. Because of my love for him, I will forgive him. But that does not mean he is not grounded for the next two weeks. His remorse and repentance may have dissuaded me from grounding him for life as my initial reaction suggested, but it does not remove the need for punishment. Some punishment is needed to keep my child's behavior ordered and civilized.

This is modeled for us in the sacrament of Reconciliation. We come with remorseful and penitent hearts and present our offenses against God. The priest does not say, “There, there. I know you’re sorry so just go along your way.” In spite of God’s merciful and complete forgiveness, there is still a penance required.

In the eternal view, in spite of God’s mercy and forgiveness of our sins, we may still spend time in Purgatory before we enter in to our Heavenly reward. There is no doubt that God’s justifiable anger over our offenses could condemn us to Hell. But His infinite Mercy allows us to repent. Yet this repentance is not enough. We must purify our souls in the just punishment of Purgatory to be made worthy of an eternity in God’s presence.


Michelle said…
Exactly, Denise. I use this same analogy all the time for Purgatory, especially to my children.

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