An impressive story of forgiveness

Gary Leon Ridgway (born February 18, 1949) is an American serial killer known as the Green River Killer. He was convicted of 49 separate murders committed between the early 1980s and late 1990s, making him the second-most prolific serial killer in United States history according to confirmed murders.

He decided to confess his crimes in order to avoid the death penalty. The judge named one by one the 49 women he killed (apparently, he actually killed around 90 women but many of them were never found) and he calmly repeated after each name: “guilty.”

During the whole process Mr. Ridgway spoke in a monotone voice and listened to the witnesses as if they were not talking about him. After that, the relatives of the victims, most of them women, were invited to speak in court in front of him. These are some of the testimonies: “you had said your memory when it comes to all of the women you took was gone, our memory is not; in your words you said that they didn’t mean anything to you, but she meant everything to us.” “She was a mother, she was a wife, she was a sister and we miss her.” “I wish for him a long-suffering cruel death.” “He is going to go to hell and that’s where he belongs.” Gary Ridgway sat there stone-faced as victim’s relatives damned him and mocked him.

However, there was a moment when he showed his emotions, and actually he cried; when a father of one of the victims said: “Mr. Ridgway… there are people here that hate you… I’m not one of them. You’ve made it difficult to live up to what I believe …and that is what God says to do and that is to forgive… and you are forgiven sir.”

What this man said is something that Jesus taught more than once. There are two main reasons to forgive our neighbor: the first one, also taught explicitly by Jesus, is that it is a condition to be forgiven by God: If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you (Mt 6:14). The second reason is to rid our heart of whatever is against love. Both reasons are intimately connected.

To be forgiven by God means that God removes from our heart anything that prevents us from being loved by God. God forgives, in order to love us; God forgives because He wants to open our heart to His love and for that it is necessary to remove all impediments to God’s love, that is, hatred.

Precisely because of this, when we do not voluntarily forgive those who offend us, we are voluntarily leaving hatred in our hearts. God does not remove anything from our heart by force. God forgives if our heart desires to receive His love. Hence it is also a condition for God to forgive us that we ask for forgiveness, that is, that we want to be loved by God, for which we need to be forgiven, because God does not violate our heart.

Therefore, the condition of forgiving in order to be forgiven is indispensable because it disposes our heart to receive God’s forgiveness. If we do not forgive, then we are not in condition to receive God’s forgiveness because we lack an essential disposition to receive forgiveness which is not having hatred in our heart. Let us forgive everyone from our heart in order to banish any impediment for the love of God to enter our heart.

Daily homily


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