Good Friday......a day the Christian community holds as one of their highest holy days. A day, the suffering and crucifixion of Christ is remembered. But of course, the suffering and crucifixion of Christ were necessary in order to make way for the greatest miracle of the Bible. For many that was the resurrection of Christ.....but for me......I'm not sure anymore if that's the case. Yes, the resurrection was impressive, but I've come to the conclusion that even more impressive than that was the uttering of these words on that very first Good Friday:
"Father forgive them for they know not what they do."
I've read over them a thousand times.....a permanent part of the Easter story, so common in fact, their profound meaning often get lost in the story. As I now sit firmly in the period of my life that most consider "middle age" I find myself starting to see things a little differently. I'm sure suffering and mistreatment of others has always existed, but for some reason, I seem to be more aware of it now. From my current vantage point in life, I can look back at my younger years to specific instances and wish I had acted differently toward people. At the time, it may have seemed like the thing to do, but now, today, if I could go back in time, there are a number of things I would not do the same when it comes to how I treated others. I would like to credit these changes to the simple idea that I know more today than I knew back then. Life has since taught me to have more compassion and empathy than I did before.
Now, no matter how much anyone knows, I think it's a pretty safe assumption that there is more that they don't know. I find it interesting that while in the midst of being tortured, Jesus did not ask God to forgive the people for what they knew, but instead appealed to God on behalf of what they didn't know. The assumption here is that IF THEY DID KNOW they WOULDN'T HAVE DONE IT. Jesus gives those who were wronging him the benefit of the doubt, and attributes their evil actions to their ignorance of the situation and it is in that awareness of their ignorance that He finds the power to forgive.
Which leads me to this........ today, I act differently (or at least try to) than I did when I was young because today I know more than I did then. Hopefully, 30 years from now, I will be even more aware and act differently then than I do today. Either way, my actions are guided in part by what I know, but even more by what I don't know.
In a world that seems as divided as ever, where we protest one another, slander each other, belittle others, and yes, even kill and war with each other. Perhaps the root of all of these terrible things are not all that we know....but instead all that we don't know. And if there is ever a lesson to learn from Good Friday, perhaps it might be to give people the benefit of the doubt by assuming if we truly knew and understood all the implications of our actions, maybe there are a number of things we would all do differently. Perhaps part of the path to peace on Earth is learning to forgive......for they know not what they do..