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Seven Last Words from the Cross: “Father, forgive them…”

Significantly, the first of Christ’s last words is: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do!” (Lk 23:24). Luke was not only a sensitive author; he also understood psychology long before it was a course for future teachers.

St. Luke saw the connection between a teacher’s words and life. Therefore, the Jesus we meet in Luke’s Gospel does not merely command prayer and teach prayer; we see Him pray.

Similarly, Luke shows Jesus fashioning parables on forgiveness. Far more importantly, we observe Him put those parables into practice from the pulpit of His cross. In His humanity, Christ teaches the most powerful lesson on forgiveness – by forgiving.

All people desire the experience of forgiveness, so it comes as no surprise that every major religion offers that possibility. Christianity, however, makes the personal experience of it hinge on a believer’s forgiveness of others: “Forgive us our trespasses – as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

Having taught His disciples those words, Jesus now showed them a concrete application of the petition by this petition: “Father, forgive them,” which presupposes that Christ the Man has already extended His forgiveness to His executioners and detractors.

What does it take to forgive? A unique mental attitude is required at the natural level; only an infusion of divine grace can elevate that sentiment to the supernatural level. Only then do we perceive that forgiveness is not just an option or a luxury but a necessity.

Read more at Catholic World Report. 

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