CHRISTIANS have various literary and historical figures to look up to as examples of forgiveness, such as a character from Les Miserablés and a former president, the apostolic nuncio to the Philippines, Archbishop Charles Brown, said on Day 1 of the University-wide Lenten recollection on Tuesday, March 5, at the Quadricentennial Pavilion.

In his homily focusing on forgiveness, Brown said the act is not about seeking revenge, but showing love to and choosing not to retaliate against those who have caused harm.

A notable character embodying such forgiveness, Brown said, is the bishop from Victor Hugo’s novel “Les Misérables,” Monseigneur Myriel, whose compassionate act deeply affected the main character, Jean Valjean, leading to his transformation for the better.

In the novel, Valjean steals silverware from the bishop who had sheltered him. When the protagonist is apprehended by the police, the bishop claims he had given the silverware to Valjean and even gave him more.

“The bishop hiding the sin of Jean Valjean, how beautiful that is!” Brown said. “That’s what Christian forgiveness is all about.”

Brown also recounted the story of former president Elpidio Quirino, who, despite losing his wife and three of their five children to Japanese troops during the Battle of Manila, chose to grant clemency and amnesty to Japanese war criminals serving time or facing execution in the Philippines.

“He forgave them. He granted them executive clemency,” Brown said. “[H]e didn’t want his children to grow up with hatred in their hearts for what had happened between Japan and the Philippines in the Second World War, and he said he wanted to do this…because the Philippines is a Christian nation.”

Brown said forgiveness is ingrained in the DNA of Catholics.

“It’s part of what it means to be a Christian, and it’s really the litmus test of our Christianity if we’re able to forgive.”

UST organized a three-day University-wide retreat from March 5 to 7 to mark the double jubilee of the birth and canonization of St. Thomas Aquinas, its patron saint. A.B. Maestrado



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