Thursday, September 4, 2014

And if we sinners can love like this

Abbott Iscu lay quietly awaiting death in the Tirgul-Ocna prison as a result of the tortures he had endured at the hands of his Communist captors. He spoke very little and looked serene as he felt heaven draw closer. If he did speak, his words carried the weight of eternity, and all attention in the cellblock suddenly focused to listen to him. Yet each breath he took revealed the pain that wracked his body.

Across from him, horrified at the sight of the abbot, lay another prisoner near death. He was once a Communist officer, and it was at his hands that the abbot had been tortured to the point of death. He had been a faithful Communist, and for this he now shared the cell of those he had been told to make “recant the Christian superstition” for the sake of the party. As a result of something none of the other prisoners ever learned, he had been imprisoned as well and tortured by his own comrades.

Though he, too, was at the point of death, he could find no peace in death. He awoke in the middle of the night in a heavy sweat and grabbed the arm of the person nearest him. He knew most in the cellblock were Christians, so he begged prayer. “I have committed horrible crimes,” he said, “I can find no rest. Help me, please.”

Because of the damp cold and never really knowing when it was day or night, many in the cell were still awake. At the Communist torturer’s words, Abbott Iscu motioned for two other believers to come and help him. With their help, he was lifted from his bed and brought over to the officer, where he was set down on his bedside.

The Abbott reached out and laid a comforting hand on his torturer’s head. “You were young and did not know what you were doing. I forgive you and love you, as do all the other Christians you mistreated. And if we sinners who have been saved by Jesus can love like this, how much more is He himself ready to erase all the evil you have done, to cleanse you fully. Only repent.”

So in that common cell, others heard the confession of a murderer to one of the men he had murdered. They also heard the murdered absolving his murderer. They embraced at the end of their prayers and gave each other a holy kiss, as was the custom of Christians in Jesus’ time as well as those behind the Iron Curtain.

They both died that night and must have entered heaven together. It was Christmas Eve.

No comments: