Dear Fellow Parishioners:
Our Advent season continues and our Year of Mercy is about to begin. Perhaps the storyteller Fr. Brian Cavanaugh, T.O.R., can put us into the proper spirit for this season/year. Be inspired! Reflect on your own need for reconciliation and mercy. Enjoy!
Abraham Lincoln tried to love, and left for all history a magnificent drama of reconciliation. When he was campaigning for the presidency, one of his arch-enemies was a man named Edwin McMasters Stanton. For some reason Stanton hated Lincoln. He used every ounce of his energy to degrade Lincoln in the eyes of the public. So deep-rooted was Stanton’s hate for Lincoln that he uttered unkind words about his physical appearance, and sought to embarrass him at every point with the bitterest diatribes. But in spite of this, Lincoln was elected the sixteenth president of the United States of America.
Then came the period when Lincoln had to select his cabinet, which would consist of the persons who would be his most intimate associates in implementing his programs. He started choosing men here and there for the various positions.
The day finally came for Lincoln to select the all-important post of Secretary of War. Can you imagine whom Lincoln chose to fill this post? None other than the man named Stanton. There was an immediate uproar in the president’s inner circle when the news began to spread. Advisor after advisor was heard saying, “Mr. President, you are making a mistake. Do you know this man Stanton? Are you familiar with all the ugly things he said about you? He is your enemy. He will seek to sabotage your programs. Have you thought this through, Mr. President?”
Mr. Lincoln’s answer was terse and to the point: “Yes, I know Mr. Stanton. I am aware of all the terrible things he has said about me. But after looking over the nation, I find he is the best man for the job.” So Stanton became Abraham Lincoln’s Secretary of War and rendered an invaluable service to his nation and his president.
Not many years later Lincoln was assassinated. Many laudable things were said about him. But of all the great statements made about Abraham Lincoln, the words of Stanton remain among the greatest. Standing near the dead body of the man he once hated, Stanton referred to him as one of the greatest men who ever lived and said, “He now belongs to the ages.”
If Lincoln had hated Stanton both men would have gone to their graves as bitter enemies. But through the power of love Lincoln transformed an enemy into a friend. This is the power of redemptive love.