Daily Reflection—The Lord’s First Word is Forgiveness

“Christ at 33” (detail) by Hofmann

“Christ at 33” (detail) by Hofmann


“Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).


Almighty God, Merciful Father, in the Name of Your Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ and by Thy Spirit, prepare for us that mystical space of prayer where we encounter Thy Presence.

Holy Spirit, open our minds and hearts, directing us to all that you would reveal. Strengthen us in Faith, Hope and Love… may our hearts be sorrowful and repentant, yet our souls be joyful. Grant to us knowledge that we might know the Will of the Father, wisdom that we might understand all the Father asks of us, and courage so that we might trust and surrender our lives to the Lord and live the Will of the Father, as did His Son, Jesus Christ.

~~~

When the time was right, God sent His Son—His Word—on a mission to rescue us. This Divine Person took on a human nature and became the God-man Jesus. Do we fully grasp the significance of the Incarnation? God became man? God, Who is infinitely above us, in humility became one of us—like us in all ways but sin—not to destroy us, but to redeem us.

It is written in John’s Gospel, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him” (John 3:16-17).

Jesus came to do the Will of the Father. He was all about doing the Father’s work. And that work was the forgiveness of sin, the reconciliation of sinners to God.

Throughout the Gospels, we witness an ever-growing tension between Jesus and the religious authorities. On the one hand, these leaders felt threatened in their authority and prestige. On the other, I believe they were frightened by the Lord’s claim to be One with the Father. This revelation was nowhere more evident than when Jesus forgave the sins of those to whom He ministered. That was His purpose for becoming man.

In John’s first epistle, we are taught, “In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the expiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10).

The authorities would not accept this invitation to love and healing. They rejected God’s Visitation. Instead, they conspired to kill Jesus and that is what led us to this moment on the Cross. What irony that they believed they could destroy the source of all life. They sought power instead of love, death instead of life.

We who live today cannot fall into the trap of laying the blame for this moment solely at the feet of the Jewish and Roman authorities. We must know that each of us has sinned and therefore share in the responsibility of the Lord’s Passion and Death. We are all in need of Mercy.

The Lord’s First Word is Forgiveness

Bishop Robert Barron has pointed out that God’s essence is Love, not mercy. It is due to our sin that God looks upon us mercifully. He explains that Mercy is what Love looks like when Love gazes upon sinners.

So it should be no surprise that our Lord’s first Word from the Cross is forgiveness. After all, it is due to the infinite Goodness of God that we came to exist and are sustained in life. And it is because of this infinite Goodness and Mercy that God sent His Son to redeem us.

Throughout the public ministry of Jesus Christ, we encounter our God Who is humble, compassionate and forgiving. He never tired of preaching love and forgiveness. He never tired of living what He preached. So why should anyone expect anything different from Him as He hung on the Cross?

He is our model. Our response to those who harm us must be compassion and forgiveness. We must prepare to be merciful. If we are to know Mercy, we must also know contrition. If we are to call Jesus Savior, we must also acknowledge our sinfulness from which He saves us.

Have faith in Jesus, surrender your life to Him. Jesus is the answer to every question. He is our everything. Love Him back, place all your hope in Him and follow His lead…

“Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).


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About the Author

Deacon Mike Bickerstaff Editor-In-Chief, ICL

Deacon Michael Bickerstaff is the Editor in chief and co-founder of the The Integrated Catholic Life.™ A Catholic Deacon of the Roman Rite for the Archdiocese of Atlanta, Deacon Bickerstaff is assigned to St. Peter Chanel Catholic Church where he is the Director of Adult Education and Evangelization.

He is a co-founder of the successful annual Atlanta Catholic Business Conference; the Chaplain of the Atlanta Chapter of the Woodstock Theological Center’s Business Conference; and Chaplain of the St. Peter Chanel Faith at Work Business Association and co-founder and Chaplain of the Marriages Are Covenants Ministry, both of which serve as models for similar parish-based ministries.

He and his wife have two married children and three grandchildren.

NB: The views I express on this site are my own. I am not an official spokesman for either my parish or diocese.

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