Tuesday morning I was sitting in my car as I read the sad news of yet another terrorist bombing, this time in Brussels where scores were killed or seriously wounded. But that was after I had been reading a familiar passage from Luke 5 where Jesus heals a paralyzed man that had been lowered through the roof by his friends. It was Jesus’ forgiveness that most upset the religious critics standing nearby: “Who can forgive sins except God alone?” they scoffed. As I pondered Jesus’ forgiveness, which he extended even to those who were crucifying him, I thought of Jesus’ command that we must forgive and to even pray for those who persecute us. Can I be honest? I didn’t want a lesson in forgiveness after just reading about another act of terrorism! But as I prayed, this thought came to mind: to forgive does not mean that we ignore injustice or abandon those who are suffering violence. But to forgive does mean that I am letting go of hate, vengeance, and self-righteousness; that I intend to live as one who has been forgiven. It means that I pray for my enemies’ redemption; remembering that Jesus did not come “to call the righteous but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:32).
When Jesus forgave his killers from the cross he showed -- among other things – that he was not consumed by the hatred and contempt that was being shown to him. Regardless of how Jesus was treated by others, he never ceased to be himself. He did not allow the angry crowd or his Roman executioners or the disciples who deserted him, to darken his heart or turn him from his appointed mission to bear “the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6). Instead, he turned a week of brutal injustice into the holiest week in history. May the Risen Christ truly shine in and through us and our leaders as we meet these difficult challenges with justice, mercy, and love. And will you join me in praying for the victims in Brussels, and for our enemies during this season of unimaginable forgiveness? Have a holy week!