Lenten Reflection on the 7 Last Words of Christ: “Father Forgive Them.”


Our Lord begins His final discourse with “Father, forgive them; they do not know what it is they are doing.” It goes without saying that a fruitful marriage requires frequent forgiveness. Just as our Lord forgave those who put Him to death, spouses must be willing to forgive each other. While all Christians must be willing to forgive 70 x 7 times (Mt 18:22) married couples should desire to forgive each other ad infinitium. Ideally married couples will frequently ask their spouse for forgiveness yet if we look at Christ’s example on the cross we see He forgives without being asked to forgive, in fact He forgives just before they tear His garment; He forgives while they are still in the act of offending Him. How many times do spouses say they are willing to forgive if only their significant other would ask for forgiveness or at a minimum show some remorse? While it is ideal that spouses should ask for forgiveness Christ’s example shows us that spouses must forgive out of love without ever being asked. Only through this mindset of forgiveness can marriages be protected against the bitterness that often eats away at marriages.

In addition to forgiving each other spouses need the forgiveness of God. Pope Benedict XVI, in his work Jesus of Nazareth states “no one is strong enough to travel the entire path of salvation unaided. All have sinned, all need the Lord’s mercy, the love of the crucified one.”[1] All of us are sinners and for any marriage to be fruitful it must include the frequent reception of the sacrament of Penance. If Christ is at the center of all fruitful marriages when one or both of the spouses separate themselves from the love of God by sin their marriage suffers. Only through frequent reception of the sacrament of confession can spouses keep Christ at the center of their marriage and thus live out a fruitful marriage.

[1] Ratzinger, Joseph Cardinal. Jesus of Nazareth Part II. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2011. 151-152.

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