Father, Forgive them, for they don't know what they're doing

Luke 23:34

Good Friday Homily

Peace and love to you from our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ.

"Father, forgive them, for they don't know what they're doing." We think of the criminals on the cross when we hear those words. But, really, those words are said over and over by Jesus to those of us living in this day and age. Can you imagine how often Jesus must shake his head because of the things we do that have long lasting consequences that are not beneficial or positive?

We might be in favor of protecting the environment, but just how much? Are you like someone who says they are vegetarian, and I heard someone say this just recently when asked if they were vegetarian; "Well, mostly, but in all things."? So was the person vegetarian or not?

Are we good stewards of the earth? We are created in God's image, and as God is our caretaker, we are to be caretakers of the earth. But are we? We can support causes all we want, but unless we reflect that in our daily lives and how we treat the earth and its resources, you can be sure Jesus is saying to the Father on our behalf, "Father, forgive them, for they don't know what they're doing."

How ignorant are we? Jesus says, "Turn the other cheek," or "pray for those who would harm you," "forgive one another," "love one another as I have loved you." Yet, it's baffling how, our of those words we can justify warring against one another. Somehow out of those words we can justify abusing children and the elderly (we do that when we, as a nation, cut back programs for the poor and needy, those who have no voice or can't stand up for themselves, or we belittle their plight saying they have brought it upon themselves). Jesus says to the Father, "Father, forgive them, for they don't know what they're doing." Or we abuse the earth, destroying fragile ecological systems and the balance of nature, destroying resources, destroying animals and fish and wildlife when we were to care for and protect them (those are the correct translations of the Hebrew words regarding humans having 'dominion' over the earth).

Just how stupid are we? We continually set in motion things that are harmful. We turn our heads when we see things that are wrong, rather than stand up for what is right; because if we do take a stand, we will certainly not have an easy time of it. We will be targeted and maybe ridiculed.

Jesus says to the Father on our behalf, "Father, forgive them, for they don't know what they're doing."

We harm our own bodies by the way we treat them-the long hours we work, not taking a Sabbath day, the food we eat, the continued stress and increased tempo we add to our lives. We don't take care of our spiritual selves the way we should. That is way down on the priority list, and the things that are on the list above it are mostly things that are not good for us, yet we put the care of our spiritual selves far down on the list.

Jesus says on our behalf, "Father, forgive them, for they don't know what they're doing."

Jesus calls us to forgive others. Yet the cries we continually hear are for revenge - for vengeance. If you support peace, you're labeled a 'traitor.'

One of the most incredible examples of forgiveness the world has witnessed happened last year when the Amish children in a Pennsylvania school house were murdered. The response from the heart-sick, shocked parents was not one of revenge or hate, but loving forgiveness. It took the world by surprise. Commentators didn't know how to handle it. They kept voicing their disbelief, yet totally affirming what the Amish parents and community response was.

Yes, the world affirmed the forgiveness, but did it bring us any closer to that kind of forgiveness, Christ-like forgiveness, for others who might do us wrong, and do us 'wrong' to a much, much lesser degree? No. People for the most part put the Amish into a separate category. They credited them with Christ-like forgiveness, and that it was admirable, and admittedly achievable, but not achievable for those of us outside the Amish community.

Sad. Jesus has to continually intercede on our part, "Father, forgive them for they don't know what they're doing." Jesus is saying that over and over for us-we, who in our haste don't consider the consequences of most of our actions. The actions we DO consider, however, are the ones that we know will have positive consequence, like giving some food items to the Food Bank or donating some used clothing, and we expect to be rewarded for those-look how good I am, Jesus! But most of the time we don't even think about such things, and especially don't think about those marginal folks. Most of the time we don't even PRAY for them. Jesus says to the Father, "Father, forgive them for they don't know what they are doing."

We may not be criminals such as those crucified with Jesus, but we are far from being righteous, that is, in a right relationship with God. We need to DAILY repent (which means turning from our sinful, negative ways and going in the opposite, positive, beneficial direction, with the intention of NOT going back to our sinful ways) and confess our sins and ask for God's forgiveness. Let us not fool ourselves into thinking we are living the way Jesus intended. Daily, Jesus has to intercede for us and says, "Father, forgive them for they don't know what they're doing."


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