Jesus Prays for His Enemies.
Raised up on the cross, Jesus Christ was exposed to the profane gaze of a blasphemous multitude. No complaint escaped his lips. He uttered not a word until, moved with tender compassion for his enemies he cried out, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." The blood of Abel demanded vengeance; the blood of Jesus pleads only for mercy and grace for those who shed it. When they insulted his mercy he excused their sin, diminished their malice, and assumed the office of advocate for them, notwithstanding that they had accused him falsely, judged him through passion, condemned him through malice, and crucified him between two thieves as the greatest indignity they could offer him. He forgot his own bitter anguish to think of those who persecuted him unto death. Their guilt afflicted him more than all the torments he endured.
Keep silence, Christian soul when on the cross of suffering. Do not complain of your misfortunes. Lose not the fruit of your trials. Pray for your enemies. Forget the injuries they have inflicted on you. Excuse their intention if you cannot excuse their acts. If you refuse them a grace which they do not merit how can you expect to obtain grace from God?
Alas, they know not what they do. They believe that they do me much evil when in fact they procure me much good. When they think they do me good they bring evil on me. By their injuries they provide me with more occasions of merit than I can procure for myself. By their worldly counsels and dangerous flatteries they do me more evil than I would do them or desire for them. "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." I sin through malice; they through ignorance. They believe they have good reason to treat me as they do and I entertain too great a desire to be revenged on them. If they had received the numerous graces of which I have been the recipient they would be more faithful servants of God than I am. If I had been tempted as they have I should, perhaps, have lost the grace of God and become more wicked than they.
Resolution: I will forgive all those who have hurt or offended me in any way, no matter how grievously. Realizing that I might not yet be able to forgive them, I will pray daily for the grace to forgive until I am able to do so.
Prayer: Oh, most amiable and compassionate Lord, when will I begin to imitate thy mercy and sweetness? Thy precepts command me, thy love urges me, thy example engages me by a sweet and irresistible power. I pardon all who have offended me. I forgive all who have outraged, persecuted, and crucified me. O Mother of Mercy, help me to forgive my enemies even as thou didst forgive those who crucified thy beloved Son.
By a Member of the Society of Jesus, edited and amended by J. Scott Bailey, C.Ss.R.