We are often given moments of light that remind us that God is with us
- In our sometimes dark world we are often given moments of light that not only illumine our way, but remind us that God is with us. As you settle into prayer today, become aware of that light, that reveals all, and comforts all.
Can you think of a moment of radical forgiveness?
- Can you think of a moment of radical forgiveness? One of those amazing stories, which you’ve seen in newspapers, on television, or online, of men and women forgiving people responsible for horrific crimes committed against them or, more typically, against members of their families.
- Now, you might be thinking of a situation in your own life and say, “I can never forgive. It’s impossible.” Maybe a spouse has cheated on you, or a friend has betrayed you, or a business partner has defrauded you. You may say, “The sin is too great.” If you have a moment like this, hold it in your mind as you listen to today’s reading.
As they led him away, they seized a man, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming from the country, and they laid the cross on him, and made him carry it behind Jesus. A great number of the people followed him, and among them were women who were beating their breasts and wailing for him. But Jesus turned to them and said, ‘Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For the days are surely coming when they will say, “Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never nursed.” Then they will begin to say to the mountains, “Fall on us”; and to the hills, “Cover us.” For if they do this when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?’ Two others also, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. When they came to the place that is called The Skull, they crucified Jesus there with the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. [[ Then Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.’]] And they cast lots to divide his clothing. And the people stood by, watching; but the leaders scoffed at him, saying, ‘He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Messiah of God, his chosen one!’ The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine, and saying, ‘If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!’
Jesus sees people for who they really are
- Look at what Jesus does from the cross in this passage. If anyone had a right not to forgive, it was Jesus. If anyone had the right to lash out in anger, it was Jesus. If anyone had the right to feel unjustly persecuted, it was Jesus. Yet even though the Roman soldiers do not express remorse in front of him, Jesus not only forgives them; he prays for them. Notice that Jesus, “Father, forgive them.” He’s praying for them.
- Now consider that line, “They do not know what they are doing.” That’s a key insight. In the case of Jesus on the cross, most scholars believe that that phrase probably means, “They don’t know that they are doing this to God’s Son.” But some people in sin sometimes don’t seem to be thinking clearly. This insight may help you on the road to forgiveness.
- Jesus always sees. And he sees beyond what people around him see. He sees people for who they really are. When he sees the woman caught in adultery, he doesn’t see just her sin; he sees a person in need of forgiveness and healing. Jesus does the same on the cross. He doesn’t see just executioners. He sees people making horrible decisions and perhaps being forced to do so. He sees them, and so he loves them, and so he can forgive them.
- Forgiveness is a gift you give the other person and yourself. Jesus knows this. And he not only tells us this several times in the Gospels, but he shows us this. He is teaching us even from the cross.
Talk to God
True forgiveness is a gift from God
- Now, here’s the big question: How do you do it? You may want to forgive but feel incapable of doing so. You want to let go of resentment, but you may honestly feel that you don’t have that power within you. How is it you’re feeling right now about a particular situation? Do you feel bitter? Powerless? Wanting to forgive?
- If you feel it, that wanting to forgive is a good start, because true forgiveness is a gift from God. It’s a grace. If you don’t have this desire within you, why not ask for God to give you this grace?
- To paraphrase Saint Ignatius of Loyola, even if you don’t have the desire to forgive, if you have the desire for the desire, that’s enough. God can work with that. Offer your inner feelings about this to God now.
- So you may think, “Well, I can’t do it.” And you’re right. You can’t. But God can. As the prayer for today comes to a close, sit with all that has stirred you in this time of reflection, the good, the bad, and all that was a challenge, or drew you closer to God.