Tuesday, May 22, 2018
What are the limits of mercy?
Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” – Luke 23:34
These noble words of Christ are not in all the ancient manuscripts. Either they were added at a later date, or they were deleted for some unknown reason to correct the text. The Gospels are dotted with these moments when either words were added or words were deleted. For some, this reality of ancient versions of the scriptures may be unnerving. But not for me. I believe it leaves a trace of Christian mortals like myself trying as best they can to get it right.
If this prayer of mercy for His executioners was not first included, its addition emphasizes a quality of mercy found in Christ that takes into account the limits of human understanding. If this prayer of mercy was excluded it may reflect how the early Christian struggled with the tension between grace and accountability. I tend to think that Luke, a Gentile, a colleague of Paul who reached out to the Gentiles, sought to emphasize especially to the Gentile converts the mercy Christ bestowed on the Gentile Roman soldiers and the Jews of the Sanhedrin. Christ is merciful.
Yet … we still struggle with the limits of Christian mercy. How does Christian mercy deal with evil done in ignorance? How does Christian mercy deal with the unrepentant? How does Christian mercy deal with people like ourselves who so many times …”do not know what we are doing“.
In Christ Service Always,
Fr. Charitas de la Cruz