Recently I shipped some personal items from the States to Rome (for some things, it’s just easier to do it that way than to lug them in my baggage on the plane). It’s not the first time I’ve done this, but this time, at some point during the shipment, my box was carefully opened, two not-inexpensive items were removed from it, and then the box was carefully closed back up in a way that was almost unnoticeable.
Mail theft is nothing new, particularly in countries like Italy that are notorious for it. That said, I don’t know where it happened. It could have been in New Hampshire, from where I mailed it. It could have been in Memphis, Tennessee, from where the package departed for Europe (really? New Hampshire to Tennessee?). It could have been at any of the three different stops in France and Italy the package took before getting to Rome. It could even have been at some point after it arrived at our Vatican shipping office – gasp! – where it no doubt sat for a day or two before being brought to my place halfway across town.
Wherever it happened, someone saw the items listed on the customs declaration (see what following the rules gets you! ha ha, just kidding), was tempted, gave in to the temptation, and then carefully extracted those items from the package. Given how well they did it, it makes me think it wasn’t their first time stealing. God help them.
So anyhow, these are just material possessions, and it is not the end of the world. In the long run it is water under the bridge. But no matter how many times I remind myself of that, it doesn’t seem to make me feel much better. I was looking forward to using these items. How could someone steal from people’s mail? What kind of person is that? How do they sleep at night? Those things cost me money! And so forth.
Bottom line: I’ve got to forgive.
Forgiveness is not an option; and it is also (often) not easy. I think that’s why Christ made it part of the “perfect prayer” that he taught us – the Our Father. We need help in forgiving. Part of that help comes when we think about how much God has forgiven us. Part of that help comes when we think about how unjust it is to seek God’s forgiveness without being willing to forgive others. And part of that help comes not just from thinking about these things, but asking God for it.
who art in heaven,
hallowed be Thy name.
Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done,
on earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil. Amen.
Last Sunday’s gospel, about the Prodigal Son, certainly gives us something to think about. Lord, help us all to forgive!