The Melbourne Museum is currently hosting an exhibition focussed on the life of Nelson Mandela.
I am sure that most of us are familiar with his story. Jailed for his stand against Apartheid in South Africa, he was kept imprisoned for almost 30 years.
I made two discoveries when I attended a few weeks ago. Firstly, I was shocked at the treatment of the inmates by guards. The punishments were both physically and psychologically damaging.
I was equally surprised by the first thing that Mandela did upon his release – he forgave his captors.
Mandela knew that using the opportunity to hurt those who had hurt him, would simply lead to a cycle of further violence that would inevitably harm innocent people.
South Africa had to come to terms with its past and victims were invited to tell their stories, and perpetrators were asked to face up to what they had done – but this was not part of a continuing cycle of hate and hurt.
Sunday’s Gospel touches on this theme, when Jesus tells the disciples they must ‘love’ their enemies. This instruction is was truly lived by Nelson Mandela, a model for our world.