Missionaries of God’s Love founder Fr Ken Barker spoke in Brisbane recently about God’s divine mercy and forgiveness. He shared his insights with MATT EMERICK
JIMMY Mizen was an energetic, Catholic schoolboy from south London with a joy-filled nature – a teen who would do anything to help another human being.
The day after his 16th birthday in May 2008, he went to a local bakery to buy a treat and his first lottery ticket. It was the last thing he ever did.
He was murdered by a 19-year-old who had picked a fight with the 192cm, gentle giant – Jimmy had resisted his taunts and threats after the boy had been asked to leave the bakery, so the boy slashed his throat with a shard of glass from a baking dish and severed an artery.
Jimmy bled to death cradled in the arms of his brother.
Within days, Jimmy’s devastated mother had forgiven the young man who had killed her son.
“I just want to say to the parents of this other boy. I want to say I feel so, so sorry for them. I don’t feel anger, I feel sorry for the parents,” Jimmy’s mum Margaret told the media after the murder.
“We’ve got such lovely memories of Jimmy and they will have such sorrow about their son.
“I feel for them, I really do.”
Mrs Mizen said she did not want retribution for her son’s murder.
“For me forgiveness is about not wanting revenge and not being angry,” she said.
“I’m not shouting from the rooftop ‘I forgive’ but by not wanting revenge I have an inner peace that a lot of people in our position don’t have.
“Jimmy’s murder has done a lot of damage to this family and I don’t want it to do any more.”
The tragic story of the Mizen family and the teen sentenced to life in jail for Jimmy’s murder was one of many accounts of heroic forgiveness told by Missionaries of God’s Love founder Fr Ken Barker on a recent trip to Brisbane where he spoke of the power of forgiveness and God’s divine mercy.
Fr Barker spoke to a crowd of all ages at St James’ parish hall at Coorparoo on March 19.
“I think it’s critical for today’s world to understand God’s mercy and forgiveness, because people are experiencing dislocation in relationships on all levels,” Fr Barker said.
“It’s really important for us to be able to forgive one another.
“I think that grace comes especially when we first experience the mercy of God.
“When we first know His forgiveness in our own hearts for the offences we’ve done against him, then we can freely forgive others.”
Fr Barker will release a new book on the topic of mercy and forgiveness titled, His Name is Mercy, in May.
“I think all in the world need to learn more about God’s mercy,” he said.
“As Catholics, we need to get to know this mystery a lot more. It’s possible we can get caught up in seeking revenge or having in our hearts a judgement against ourselves.
“It’s the problem of the human heart, we find it very difficult to forgive, so I think it’s very important that we get that touch of God’s mercy, where we are to forgive one another, especially at this time of the year, when we are celebrating the Passion and death of Jesus.”
Fr Barker said the new book would tell stories on how people can show mercy and forgive.
“It’s very much on the theme of mercy, but it tells a lot of stories, and how people who have been damaged greatly in their life, one way or another, have been able to forgive by the grace of God,” he said.
“People can be terribly twisted up inside emotionally because they have been unable to forgive.
“It’s a very understandable position, because we’ve been wounded deeply and it’s very hard to make this decision to forgive.
“It is a decision, but it can be made under God’s grace and once we’ve made our decision it can deepen our faith.”
Fr Barker said the Easter season gave all Catholics, extra reason to forgive.
“As Jesus is being nailed to the cross, he says ‘Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do’, and it’s especially pertinent at this time of year that we understand that even though we didn’t deserve it, Christ forgave us our sins out of his great mercy,” he said.
“So in gratitude for what he’s done in cancelling all of our faults, we should be prepared to cancel the fault of others in our minds and heart.
“We need to let go of anger, bitterness or resentment.
“We need to forgive, because that’s where the real freedom comes to our heart.”
Fr Ken Barker will speak at Pray 2010 in Brisbane, July 7-10. Visit www.pray2010.org.au for details