Day: Good Friday, April 19th, 2019

“Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.’”
Good Friday. For me, this is one of those “thin” places each year, when God feels so near, when the world seems drenched with the sacred, and when this whole story we find ourselves in becomes especially powerful.

Good Friday causes us to reflect on things that we’d much rather avoid thinking about. Pain and suffering, human violence, scapegoating of the innocent, cycles of revenge and retaliation, and our own participation in or allowance of such things. Humanity still suffers from the same afflictions it did in Jesus’ time. The beauty of Good Friday, for me, is that Jesus’ life and example on the cross shows us the pathway out of those destructive cycles.

Shane Claiborne says it so beautifully: “On the cross, we see what love looks like when it stares evil in the face.”
Jesus’ prayer, “Forgive them,” was given freely, not contingent on an apology. I believe he included all of us in that prayer. That unconditional, surprising, unwarranted love is what changes our hearts and turns us to God.

Jesus’ enemy-love is still the most powerful force in the world. Even on nights like tonight, when love seems trampled and buried by the world’s violence and hate, we know the truth—His life and love is like any seed, which, when buried, is not dead, but is the promise of new life.

How can we grow in our capacity to love in this way? While we may not experience such dramatic trials, all of us will be wronged at some time. All of us will be misunderstood or betrayed. Sometimes new boundaries are needed. But we do not have to return hate for hate. There is a prayer guide which Richard Rohr often includes in his daily meditations which helps me remember to extend love beyond my comfort zone. I will share it in case it helps you as it has helped me:

Begin by focusing your thoughts on a loved one–a friend or family member whom you find it easy to love. Say a prayer for that person. Give thanks for their divine spark. Pray for them to experience peace, wholeness, and love.

Next…bring to mind an acquaintance for whom you have no strong feelings. Pray the same good things for them.
Gradually, widen your compassion to pray this same prayer for someone who disagrees with you, who has been less than kind to you, or someone who has hurt you.

 

Prayer:
Thank You, Jesus, for teaching us to love our enemies. Help us to follow you! Amen.

Contributed by Traci McGrath