"Father, forgive them, for they don't know what they're doing." -- Jesus, at his executionOf all the words spoken by Jesus from the cross, three are prayers -- but only one is a petition: forgiveness. He did not ask forgiveness for himself (which many dying people would pray earnestly), but for the people involved in killing him.
To observe Good Friday, and to observe the longer season of Lent, many of us fast on certain days and abstain from all kinds of self-indulgence. But how much of Jesus' point in Lent is about forgiveness? How much of his teaching is about forgiveness?
To observe Good Friday right, I'm thinking of all the people Jesus had occasion to forgive, and thinking how many people just like that I could forgive today:
- The people who didn't know what they were doing, and thought they were doing the right thing (like the soldiers at the crucifixion)
- The people who talked a good game, but didn't come through (like Peter at the Last Supper)
- The ones who didn't do what they could, when we asked for support (like Peter, James, and John in the garden)
- The ones who didn't stand by us when we needed them (like the disciples who ran away at Jesus' arrest)
- The people who tried to score personal points at our expense (like Pilate sending Jesus to Herod)
- The no-shows at our big moments in life (like Thomas on the day of the Resurrection)