For the first time, I could really understand how Jesus could say from the cross – ‘forgive them, Father… they don’t know what they are doing’. Just like my dogs, Jesus knew that the Romans were just doing their job to bring law and order to the Roman Empire. The Jews were just doing what they truly thought was best for the Israelite people – trying to prevent them from being annihilated by the Romans. And the Apostles were scared to death of both of them – and like any other human being – they ran for their lives. Their self-preservation instincts kicked in.
Still - It had to make Jesus sad. He had TRIED to get them to stop hurting each other… and in the process, he got hurt. They wouldn’t listen to him.
Yet – he understood why they did it – even GOOD people get caught up in self-preservation and do the wrong thing even though they THINK it is for the best. Father forgive them….
We experience that. Half of our marriages end this way… you know, we marry our best friend – and for a while, life is good. But something changed...our self preservation kicks in when things get rocky. Co-workers stab us in the back. Family members do unthinkable things to one another. Even our BEST friends let us down.
If that was the end of the story – it would indeed be a sad state. But this is not SAD Friday… this is GOOD Friday. But Jesus shows us another way. Notice – even though he KNEW that Judas was going to betray him, he didn’t kick him out! Judas was there and had his feet washed last night! Judas was there for the first Mass at the last supper… Judas received the first Eucharist! Judas received the Body and blood of Christ from the very hand of Christ! You can’t get much closer of a friend than that… yet… well… you know what he did. He bit the hand that fed him. His self-preservation kicked in. Jesus denounced his actions – but He loved Judas to the end.
How can we live this example in our own relationships? First – it may sound like a pious platitude… but put yourself in the other persons’ shoes. If we can come to understand WHY they do what they do – and we might realize that we would do the same thing if we were in that situation. It doesn’t make it RIGHT… but makes it forgivable. Father forgive them…
Second – do the right thing regardless of how we are treated. We all have a conscience. We all can pray for God’s will. Even with that unbearable pain of betrayal on his heart – Jesus continued to follow the Father’s will. He knew what he had to do… and though his humanity would like to have skipped over the suffering part, his WILL was so tightly connected to his Father’s will that he WANTED to die on that cross. Remember he said – “Nobody takes my life from me… I lay it down on my own”. He crawled onto that cross willingly. If he could have, he would have reached over with one hand and drove the nail through his other hand himself!!! For the sake of the disciples. For the sake of the Romans. For the sake of the chief priests and scribes! Yes – even for his friends who had abandoned or betrayed him. For our sake. Had he stopped short of giving it ALL, the sacrifice would have been incomplete – and we would still be bound by the law to die for our sins.
Father forgive us…. We really DIDN'T know what we were doing. But now-we realize we bit the hand that feeds us.