SISTER RANI MARIA
Sister Rani Maria was born in Kerala, South India in 1954. She became a Catholic nun and worked among the poor people in Madhya Pradesh, another state in India. In 1995 she was travelling to work on a bus when she was stabbed to death in a knife attack by a hit man named Samundhar Singh. The murder had been arranged by some landlords who did not like the Sister’s work among the poor people. Various institutes have been named after her and a museum in her honour has been opened at Pulluvazhy in Kerala. Her important work among the poor has been recognized by the Church but that is not why we are telling her story.
THE POWER OF FORGIVE
The most important part of this story relates to her murderer, Samundhar Singh. Soon after the murder, Sr Selma Paul, the younger sister of Sr Rani Maria visited Singh, in his prison cell. Significantly the day that she visited was the feast day for Hindus of “Rakshabandhan” [knot of protection], an annual feast held to consolidate the relationship between brothers and sisters. During the visit Sr Selma tied a decorated thread, a ‘Rakhi’ on Samundhar’s wrist signifying that she regarded him as a brother. He was overwhelmed by this unexpected gesture and apologized to Sr Selma and asked for her forgiveness. Later, on the eighth anniversary of the death of Sr Rani Maria, her mother Eliswa visited the jail and kissed the hands of her daughter’s killer showing that she had forgiven him for her daughter’s death. Singh subsequently repented and confessed his sins and became a Christian. Today he is a changed man helping the poor people and trying to continue Sr Rani Maria’s mission. What led to these changes in him? It was simply the forgiving love of Sr Rani Maria’s family that changed his life. Now Samundhar is treated as one of the family and he regularly visits Sister Rani Maria’s family in Kerala.
To forgive someone is not to suppress the anger or revenge that we feel towards them but to express our forgiving love for them. When we resolve to change our anger into love we become more loving, creating a better world. Forgiveness is central to the Lord’s prayer, when we say “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Jesus is saying that we will not be forgiven our sins if we cannot be loving and forgive others. The Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraph 2840 says about God’s merciful forgiveness, “This outpouring of mercy cannot penetrate our hearts as long as we have not forgiven those who have trespassed against us. Love, like the Body of Christ, is indivisible; we cannot love the God we cannot see if we do not love the brother or sister we do see. In refusing to forgive our brothers and sisters, our hearts are closed and their hardness makes them impervious to the Father’s merciful love; but in confessing our sins, our hearts are opened to his grace.” Forgiveness is not always easy but we will never have peace in our hearts without it.
HOW CAN WE FORGIVE?
Be still and imagine the person that you want to forgive. Pray to the Holy Spirit, asking for the strength to accept that person as a fellow human being with all their faults and failings.
Pray for yourself asking that the Lord will take away all the negative and angry feelings that you have towards them and replace it with his love.
Pray “Lord, from my heart, I forgive them for whatever they did, intentionally or accidentally. Please forgive me for whatever I may have done to hurt or provoke them. May our broken relationship be healed and may our hearts and minds be filled with the love and peace of Jesus Christ.”
Pray for that person, “May the Lord bless them and prosper them, keep them safe and guard them.”
Written By : Munnu Fenil