Today’s Saint

Daily Journey with the Saints

July 12 | Does Forgiveness Work? (Pt. 2)

Saint John Gaulbert

A.D. 985–1073

Does forgiveness work? 

It’s a great question. Forgiveness is one of the hardest things in the world. When you have been deeply hurt, horrendously wounded, or monumentally betrayed, it can be incredibly difficult to forgive.

And the thing is, this isn’t theoretical. If you live long enough, you will be deeply hurt, horrendously wounded, and monumentally betrayed… and possibly many times.

So, as hard as forgiveness is sometimes, it raises one very practical question. Does it work? Because if we can be convinced that forgiveness works, it will be easier to do the hard work to follow through and truly forgive.

For a test of whether forgiveness truly does work, let’s turn to Saint John Gaulbert, who sought revenge after his brother was murdered.

John was a nobleman in medieval Florence living amidst the factional violence and family rivalries of the time. He was known as a fierce warrior, caring for few people other than his older brother Ugo. John’s life changed when Ugo was killed by a member of a rival family. 

John did what everyone expected him to do. He vowed revenge.

His opportunity came on Good Friday, of all days. John had finally tracked down the killer. And now he found himself face to face with his brother's murderer. It was a moment ripe for revenge, and John unsheathed his sword. He approached to strike, but then the murderer fell to his knees and begged for mercy, asking John to forgive him in the same way Jesus forgave those who crucified him. 

John was stunned. He didn’t know what to do. To his own amazement, he found the forgiveness of Jesus rising up within him, and he felt compelled to extend that forgiveness to others. Saint John Gaulbert forgave his brother’s murderer. And that forgiveness opened up space in his heart to live a life of deep devotion to God and compassionate care for others.

Does forgiveness work? Yes, but it is critically important to keep one thing in mind. Forgiveness doesn’t change the past, it changes the future.

I’ll say it one more time, forgiveness doesn’t change the past, it changes the future. So, if you want your future to be better than your past, more peaceful and less bitter and resentful, it might be time to think about who you need to forgive and what you need to forgive them for. 

Who do you need to forgive?


I will forgive.

This reflection is brought to you from book title.

Feast Day: July 12

Feast Day Shared By: Saints Nabor and Felix

Patron Saint of: Forest workers, Foresters, Parks, and Park Rangers

Canonized: October 24, 1193

Canonized By: Pope Celestine III

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