Repentance, Forgiveness, Grace, Reconciliation & Service
Often our life can “turn on a dime!” This became clear when Most Worshipful Brother Jay Adam Pearson, PGM, presented me the book, The Sunflower by Simon Wiesenthal. I had already prepared my Masonic Light column and upon his request, I was ready to send it to Most Worshipful Brother Jerry Carver, our Grand Secretary. Why did Wiesenthal entitle his book, The Sunflower? The Sunflower is not a captivating title, but it was a gift so I decided to open it. I could not set the book down until I had read it through. After reading the book, many questions permeated my mind, aligning with my concern for our Lodges, Community, State, and Nation. Rather than wait, I decided to “turn on a dime” and share Simon Wiesenthal’s true story. The storyline in “The Sunflower” depicts Simon being summoned from a concentration camp to the deathbed of a young Nazi soldier, whom Simon calls Karl, and who has been mortally wounded in combat. Karl confesses to Simon his atrocious deeds against the Jews, which he did in the service of the Nazi Regime. Karl shares his repentant heart with Simon, declaring he cannot die in peace without receiving Simon’s (a Jewish person) forgiveness for persecuting the Jewish nation. After hearing the detailed confession containing systematic persecution and slaughter, Simon leaves the room without offering forgiveness. This experience haunts Simon long after the guns and Final Solution had ceased. After the war, Simon searches for and finds Karl’s mother in Stuttgart, Germany and visits with her. Listening to a proud mother as she shares about Karl’s youth; Simon learns about Karl’s Christian upbringing, and his rejection of his parents’ values in joining the Schutzstaffel (SS). Simon ultimately demonstrates his forgiveness by choosing not to tell Karl’s mother the full truth of Karl’s service in the SS and death. After his experience with Karl and his mother, Simon continues to be distressed by the question of whether he should have forgiven the young man.
Simon, like many of our Lodges, was plagued with a need to hold on to hatred and personal convictions rather than accept repentance, offer forgiveness, impart grace uniting in reconciliation and service. The past several years, I have traveled our state, witnessing all the good work our Lodges are doing for humanity. I also must confess I have seen too many situations arise at the ballot box concerning personal picks and quarrels. An EA or FC should only be rejected pending Masonic Charges, not placed in isolated limbo so the “offended Brother” can claim victory. The Great Light of Masonry reveals we all need repentance, forgiveness, and grace. I fully believe Masonry is not for everyone. The petition is the first sentinel for our Fraternity. If a person does not have temperance, fortitude, prudence and justice, then they do not merit a petition. In the same manner, a repentant heart merits forgiveness and grace, providing a bridge of reconciliation and service. Before you cast your ballot on a candidate with whom you have disharmony, go visit with him and reconcile, only then return to the Lodge and vote for the good of Masonry.
Brethren, I pray Karl did find someone to accept his repentant heart, offer forgiveness and impart grace before he died. Now let’s cover the phrase “life can turn on a dime.” Since a dime is the smallest U.S. coin, the ability to “turn on it” is a figure of speech, indicating you can change direction very quickly in a very small space. In this case, it means life can change course quickly. Depending on the circumstances, it can be either good or bad, but either way change will be rapid. Worshipful Master, if your Lodge is experiencing ballot rejections concerning personal picks and quarrels, place a dime on the ballot box for all to see. Share Simon’s experience with Karl and how refusing to accept a repentant heart, needing forgiveness and grace, would haunt Simon for the remainder of his life.
Word of the month: Grace---the free and unmerited favor of GOD
Quote of the month: “For evil to flourish, it only requires good men to do nothing.”
Simon Wiesenthal Thought of the month: “Above all things have intense and unfailing love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins.”
1 Peter 4:8
Together we can protect, preserve, serve, and grow.
O.B. Smith, Senior Grand Warden
Chairman, Masonic Education Committee