“Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”

“Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34)

We begin by entering into physical and mental stillness which helps us become aware of God’s presence within and around us.

What is on your mind today? Let it rise to the surface…

How do you feel within your body? Perhaps you are aware of a level of tension, or of some stiffness, tiredness or pain… or perhaps you feel quite at home within yourself. Just sit for a while with whatever you notice…

As you breathe in, take in anything that you’ve become aware of…

As you breathe out, hand everything over to God…

We begin our Lenten journey with the first words of Jesus from the Cross, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34)

Jesus has already faced a terrible ordeal. He has been betrayed and abandoned by his closest friends, tried by hostile religious authorities determined to destroy him. He has been abused and mocked by Roman soldiers, put on trial and condemned to death by a corrupt and spineless ruler looking for an easy way out. He has been stripped, flogged and made to carry his own instrument of torture and death. As prepares to die, his one prayer to his Father is that those responsible should be forgiven. He thinks not of himself but of us, and his heart is filled with compassion. He understands all of it, and forgives it all…

Take time to imagine this scene… to hear Jesus speak these words. How do you feel as you see and hear him? What do you want to say to him, or to anyone else within this scene?

We listen now to a story from Luke’s Gospel that Jesus told his followers about forgiveness. The story is so vivid that it is still remembered and re-told, thousands of years later.

Luke 15:11-32

Then he said, 'There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, "Father, let me have the share of the estate that will come to me." So the father divided the property between them. A few days later, the younger son got together everything he had and left for a distant country where he squandered his money on a life of debauchery. When he had spent it all, that country experienced a severe famine, and now he began to feel the pinch; so he hired himself out to one of the local inhabitants who put him on his farm to feed the pigs. And he would willingly have filled himself with the husks the pigs were eating but no one would let him have them.

Then he came to his senses and said, "How many of my father's hired men have all the food they want and more, and here am I dying of hunger! I will leave this place and go to my father and say: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you; I no longer deserve to be called your son; treat me as one of your hired men." So he left the place and went back to his father. While he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was moved with pity. He ran to the boy, clasped him in his arms and kissed him.

Then his son said, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I no longer deserve to be called your son." But the father said to his servants, "Quick! Bring out the best robe and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the calf we have been fattening, and kill it; we will celebrate by having a feast, because this son of mine was dead and has come back to life; he was lost and is found." And they began to celebrate.

The story of the Prodigal Son is so familiar but try to hear it as if for the first time. Listen to it in light of Jesus’ words of forgiveness from Calvary. What particular words or images stay with you? Perhaps you feel drawn to the character of the son, or perhaps to the compassionate and loving father. Stay with whatever draws you.

Lent is above all a time for us to remember God’s mercy and to ask to be set free from anything that holds us captive. It may be memories of past injuries done to us, or done by us. It may be a fear that we can never truly be forgiven. Our loving God knows even the most hidden truth about us, and still longs to embrace us with compassion and love. Spend time getting in touch with your feelings right now, and ask yourself what grace you most want to receive this Lent. Take time to say whatever is in your heart to God.

You have given all to me
To you Lord, I return it
Everything is Yours
Do with it what you will
Give me only your love and your grace
That, is enough for me.

1. 'Father, forgive them'
00:00 -00:00