Simon Wiesenthal wrote The Sunflower in 1969. It speaks of the pain he experienced at the hands of the Nazis during WWII. He describes being taken from a Nazi death-camp to a makeshift hospital. He was ushered by a nurse to the side of a Nazi soldier, who asked to have a private moment with a Jew. The soldier was fatally wounded and bandaged from head to toe. Struggling to face Wiesenthal with broken words he confessed the heinous act of setting ablaze a village of Jews. Men, women and children burned to death. Those that tried to escape the flames were shot to death. This German soldier had been unable to silence the screams of those innocent people. Now the man was seeking the forgiveness of a Jew. The man begged Wiesenthal to stay, and repeatedly cried out for forgiveness. Wiesenthal walked away. Nazi soldiers like this man had killed eighty-nine of his own relatives.
Years later, Wiesenthal wondered if he had done the right thing. Should he have accepted the man's repentance and offered forgiveness? Or was his silence the appropriate reply? To find an answer, he wrote thirty-two men and women of high regard--scholars, Nobel laureates, psychologists and others. Twenty-six said that his action of not offering forgiveness was right. Six speculated on the costly, but superior, road of pardon and mercy.
Mary celebrates God's mercy because she was the Nazi soldier, and her Jewish Messiah chose to forgive her. I don't know what it would take for a man to know forgiveness in him who had burned innocent people to death simply because of their race. That is the crime of a monster. But Christmas is a time of celebration, because men now understand we who killed the Author of Life, the Prince of Peace, the Son of God; God forgave by sending us a Jew to be our Messiah.
From Ed Sasnett's Sermon "Mary's Song"
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