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Day Thirty of Lent – “Father, Forgive Them, For They Know Not What They Do”

Day Thirty of Lent
“Father, Forgive Them, For They Know Not What They Do”

When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him and the criminals there, one on his right, the other on his left. [Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.”] Luke 23:33-34a

As our Blessed Mother stood before the Cross of her Son, she heard Him speak these words with compassion, conviction and mercy, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.” What would Mother Mary have thought as she heard her Son speak these words about those who were responsible for His brutal torture and death? What would she, as a mother, think about this prayer of her Son?

These are the first of seven statements of our divine Lord spoken from the Cross. In many ways, they are foundational teachings for the entire Christian life. These words about forgiveness are integral to that foundation.

As our Blessed Mother heard these words of her Son, she would have immediately echoed these sentiments spoken from the the heart of her Son. As Jesus cried out to the Father, begging for mercy upon those responsible for His brutal Crucifixion, so our Blessed Mother would have cried out as in one song of mercy and praise. Their hearts of mercy were united. One unwavering song of forgiveness was sung by two voices, He who suffered physically and she who suffered silently.

To forgive without reserve in such a moment is almost beyond human comprehension. It’s beyond what our fallen human nature can immediately grasp. So often we want revenge and worldly justice. We want others to be held accountable and judged for their wrongs. But this is not our role. The Father in Heaven is the only judge. We have only the duty to forgive. And we must do so over and over again.

Who has hurt you? Against whom do you hold a grudge? Whom have you failed to forgive? Forgiving another does not excuse their sin. On the contrary, an act of forgiveness acknowledges sin as a prior act in need of mercy. Forgiveness offers mercy even when it is not asked for or even deserved. Mercy must be given by us without reserve and in every situation in life on account of the unlimited mercy given to us by God. Mercy flows downhill.

Reflect, today, upon the Mother of God seeing with her own eyes the most brutal treatment of her Son. As you ponder her at the foot of the Cross, listen to Jesus speak those powerful words, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Listen to those words with our Blessed Mother and know that she spoke them with her Son without reserve. Join in their prayer and offer it for those whom you need to forgive.


My dearest Mother of Mercy, you listened in love to your Son speak these most incredible words, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” These words were like an arrow of mercy piercing your heart. And you responded to these words with your own prayer of mercy for all those who had sinned against your Son.

My dear Mother, pray for me that I may imitate this prayer of forgiveness in my own life. Pray for me that I may not hesitate in offering this mercy to all who have sinned against me.

My Merciful Lord, You did not hesitate to forgive those who gravely sinned against You. They treated You with cruelty beyond comprehension, yet You forgave them with perfect mercy. Give me the grace I need, dear Lord, to forgive those who have sinned against me. Replace anger and hate with love and mercy.

40 Days Journey with Our Lord
Day Thirty: Anger or Patience?

For many, anger is a daily struggle. Our minds can easily be tricked into anger when we sense an injustice has been done to us. And though injustices happen, the correct response is not the sin of anger, it is forgiveness, over and over again, and patient endurance through everything. This is difficult because, from a purely natural point of view, anger makes sense. When a grave injustice takes place publicly, people are outraged. When someone fails in his or her responsibility, accountability is demanded. When we are wronged by another, we want justice. These reactions make sense to us because they flow from our fallen human nature. They do not, however, flow from God’s mercy.

Righteous anger, such as Jesus turning over the tables in the Temple, is not the sin of anger. It’s an act of love that seeks to draw a person to repentance. Jesus was not out of control or guided by His passions. He was fully in control and sought passionately to call the people to a more authentic worship for their own good. Only a pure soul consumed with divine love is capable of performing an act of holy anger. Those who do, know that their actions flow from God’s mercy.

During Jesus’ arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane, Peter’s fear led to the sin of anger when he drew his sword and severed the ear of a soldier. Jesus, however, went beyond justice and administered mercy by healing the soldier’s ear and telling Peter, “Put your sword into its scabbard. Shall I not drink the cup that the Father gave me?” (John 18:10). Jesus’ mission was the salvation of souls. He was not there to defend Himself against every injustice, holding everyone immediately accountable by condemning them. He saw the bigger picture of mercy.

We must imitate Jesus and freely embrace injustice. When we do, great spiritual power is unleashed. That spiritual power is far greater than holding someone accountable in the moment and resorting to condemnation. The spiritual power of mercy and forgiveness, as is found in patient endurance of injustice, has the power to change minds and hearts and turn them to God. Condemnation does not.

Similar to spiritual gluttony, spiritual anger often arises when sacrifice is required and spiritual sweetness diminishes. Those who have long felt God’s consolations will eventually find that those consolations fade. When that happens, they become irritated and frustrated that God withdraws His good feelings. These holy souls need to understand that patient endurance in the spiritual life will produce far greater eternal rewards than immediate spiritual sweetness. Some saints spent decades enduring spiritual dryness but persevered through it all in fidelity to the will of God.

From the Cross, Jesus cried out, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). If the Son of God can forgive and beg the Father to forgive those who murdered Him as He was dying, then this act calls us all to the same depth of forgiveness. Mercy goes beyond natural human wisdom, requiring a new depth of spiritual wisdom that is found only on the Cross.

Ponder Jesus’ words from the Cross. Make them your own. Consider those in your life whom you hold a grudge against and prayerfully speak those words about them. Do it over and over again, believing in the spiritual wisdom of Jesus’ Cross.


My forgiving Lord, You came to give Your life freely for the salvation of souls, desiring only mercy to be poured forth from Your wounded heart. Please free me from the sin of anger, and place Your divine words in my mouth and soul so that I can continuously say with You, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.”

Mother Mary, pray for me. Jesus, I trust in You.

Source: mycatholiclife

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