Brother Thomas of Celano recounts a curious episode which took place at Collestrada near Perugia:
St. Francis of Assisi has always been considered a great man of forgiveness. Why? Because he recognized the power of forgiveness and the impact it could have in healing and transforming men and women. He also lived out this truth. Here is a story from his life that demonstrates this in a dramatic way.
One day Francis met an acquaintance of his who looked troubled, and he asked him: “Brother, how are things with you?” The man immediately began to rant against his master, saying, “Thanks to my master — May God curse him! — I have had nothing but misfortune. He has taken away all that I possess.”
Francis was filled with pity for the man, and said, “Brother, pardon your master for the love of God, and free your own soul; it's possible that he will restore to you whatever he has taken away. Otherwise, you have lost your goods and will lose your soul as well.”
But the man said, “I can't fully forgive him unless he returns what he has taken from me.” Francis answered, “Look, I will give you this cloak; I beg you to forgive your master for the love of the Lord God.” The man's heart was melted by this kindness, and he forgave his master. Immediately, he was filled with joy.
St. Francis was truly a man of forgiveness, a peacemaker who became a channel of God's grace to others. We can become like St. Francis. When we pray for those who have offended us, it frees us to love as God loves. God's grace has power not only to change us, but those who have done us injury as well.
- Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
- Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
- Where there is injury, pardon.
- Where there is doubt, faith.
- Where there is despair, hope.
- Where there is darkness, light.
- Where there is sadness, joy.
- O Divine Master,
- grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
- to be understood, as to understand;
- to be loved, as to love.
- For it is in giving that we receive.
- It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
- and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.