thoughts and observations on the daily readings
Tuesday of the Third Week of Easter
Readings may be found here
More than once, I have been told by someone that they just cannot forgive some offense done to them. And I will admit that I often struggle to forgive. Even when we tell people that we have forgiven them, forgetting the matter can be a whole lot more difficult – especially if the words or actions involved the betrayal of trust.
Is it not amazing then that the Lord Jesus forgives so readily and so entirely. He was free of sin, He never did any harm to anyone. If anyone has ever had the right to judge and condemn, it is the Son of God. And indeed His trust was betrayed. He was rejected, reviled, tormented, and killed. This Innocent One might have condemned with all justification, He might have railed against a sinful lost humanity, bewailed His fate, cursed us for all eternity. Instead He prayed “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” Instead He offered Himself on the cross for His betrayers and tormenters.
Today, we see this amazing grace at work in the death of Stephen. This young deacon does not fear to speak the truth to the angry crowd, but when their anger turns to unjust and deadly violence Stephen prays for them in imitation of the One Who fills his heart with faith and love. Stephen prays for his persecutors as a man free of hatred and resentment.
Stephen knew what Jesus proclaims today in the passage from John – that He is with His disciples still, feeding them, encouraging them, strengthening them.
The next time we tell ourselves that we cannot forgive, that we prefer the acid of our anger, may we remember the truth that in fact this Lord Jesus offers us the grace to forgive. If we wear the chains of resentment, we wear them by our own choice. He would liberate us to forgive, to forget, and to love again.