Ten years ago, in South Africa, I met people who had learned to forgive those who had wronged them. I was somewhat stunned by their ability to offer mercy; the couple whose children had been gunned down for the meagre contents of their schoolbags and the family whose father had been tortured and crippled by the police. They came to mind in the last week as I considered Kenny MacAskill's decision to release Abdelbaset Ali Mohammed al-Megrahi.
Whether he is guilty or not, whether he has expressed remorse or not, he can still be shown compassion as he prepares for death. Such mercy is on offer to us all: "he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities" (Psalm 103:10). I don't think MacAskill was suggesting that the terminal cancer Megrahi is suffering is God's judgement. Rather that he will soon meet his maker, and the final judgement on him will be made. That is an inescapable judgement which will be more difficult to receive than any human justice. Maybe Megrahi, in his last days will be able to accept the peace of God, given to him through the blood of Jesus Christ?
I was very moved by the Justice Minister's statement. I'm only disappointed that Megahi's appeal will not now be heard. We might have learned more of the events that led up to that terrible night over Lockerbie.