Thought of the Day March 19, 2019 Unconditional forgiveness

By 9:39 AM

"Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do."

Even though the religious leaders did not recognize him as the Messiah, Jesus still shows them compassion and mercy. Jesus attributes their actions to ignorance which has hardened their hearts against him. Theirs were a willful and arrogant ignorance. Even though they knew a Messiah was promised, they could not allow themselves to believe that Jesus was the Messiah. Why? Jesus did not fit their concept of the Messiah. He broke the Sabbath according to their understanding and interpretation.  He didn’t fast and follow all of the man-made laws which set one apart from the masses. He could be a danger to their relationship with Rome.  This was the thought of Caiaphas, the High Priest: it is better for you that one man should die instead of the people, so that the whole nation may not perish.”

Peter himself reiterates the attitude of Jesus about the attitude of the religious leaders when he said: Now I know, brothers, that you acted out of ignorance, just as your leaders did.” But then Peter added what was implicit in Jesus merciful prayer: Repent, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be wiped away.”

But there was also the ignorance of the soldiers. Fr. Cantalamessa said: “Ignorance, per se, existed exclusively among the soldiers. But Jesus’ prayer is not limited to them. The divine grandeur of his forgiveness consists in the fact that it was also offered to his most relentless enemies. The excuse of ignorance is brought forward precisely for them. Even though they acted with cunning and malice, in reality they did not know what they were doing; they did not think they were nailing to the cross a man who was actually the Messiah and the Son of God! Instead of accusing his adversaries, or of forgiving them and entrusting the task of vengeance to his heavenly Father, he defended them.” (To be continued)

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