Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Wednesday in Passion Week

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.


A Penitent in the Wilderness said...

For months now I've been struggling with forgetting an offense done to me. I told Heaven in my prayer that I forgave them but a big part of me could not bear to see their faces or hear their voices. I am perplexed about this and I feel ashamed in front of the Blessed Sacrament because I've confessed this more than once and yet I still feel convicted by my conscience that I dare not defile the Sacred Host during Communion. Am I losing graces? A part of me, after confession, urges me to line up for Communion but a part of me tells me that repeated sins are considered mortal sins. Am I failing the Lord?

Fr Scott Bailey, C.Ss.R. said...

Dear Penitent,

Thank you for your question. In response to your concern as to whether you might be failing the Lord the answer is No. Additionally, going by what you have written I'm not sure you are guilty of repeated sin. A sin is an act of the will. If I understand correctly you are talking about your feelings toward a person that has hurt you. Feelings are not sinful, no matter how strong they are or how often one has them. How we respond to them may be sinful, but the feelings are not.

Often we think that when we forgive someone who has wronged us that means we must feel differently toward them and forget the offense. Neither is true. The fact is we will most likely never forget the offense and, depending on what was done, may never be able to change our feelings. To forgive means that we will not hold their offense against them nor will we use it against them or hold it against them. The victim of abuse or rape will never forget what happened, will most likely never be able to bear the sound of the perpetrators voice or the sight of their face, but can forgive, that is, choose not to hold their crime against them or use it against them or seek revenge.

God does not ask us to forget or stop feeling. God asks us to forgive. If you have forgiven then you are not sinning despite your feelings. If you have not forgiven but are trying to do so then you are not sinning. Sometimes forgiveness takes time. It is when we refuse to forgive and hold the offence against the offender that we sin.

Put your conscience at rest and no longer allow this issue to keep you from receiving Holy Communion.

Fr. Scott Bailey, C.Ss.R.