“Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”
These are some of the words spoken by Jesus of Nazareth as he hung on the cross. As he looked at the people around the cross he prayed for their forgiveness. Was he asking the Father to forgive those who had whipped him; those who had driven the nails; those who had betrayed him? Or, was something more going on?
From the cross Jesus could see the pain and suffering men and women were inflecting on each other. From the cross he could see a world of prejudice, hatred, and ignorance. From the cross he could see a world filled with wealth and abundance, and he could see people hungering for food, hungering for love, hungering for forgiveness, hungering for acceptance?
From the cross was Jesus seeing 21st century America? 21st century Kansas? 21st century Hutchinson?
Was Jesus asking the Father to forgive us for our selfishness, our self-centeredness, our blindness to suffering and cruelty?
Is the “milk of human kindness” in short supply these days. Is it really alright to berate and demean anyone who disagrees with us? Whatever happened to the idea that friends could have differing opinions on issues, and still be friends? What has happened to civil discourse?
Yes, I think Jesus could see us from the cross. He could see our need for forgiveness. For “we have erred and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep, we have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts, we have offended against they holy laws, we have left undone those things which we ought to have done, and we have done those things which we ought not to have done”.
Jesus died for those who betrayed him. He died for those who drove the nails into his hands and feet. He died for those who have turned a blind eye to the needs of other human beings. He died…for me and for you.
Father, forgive us for we know not what we do!
The Rt. Rev. Michael P. Milliken
Bishop of Western Kansas
The Episcopal Church