I'd like to think so. A few years ago when I was serving as a youth group leader the individuals were challenged to come up with one phrase to describe how they wished to be remembered. My phrase was "She loved." It's easy to love our family and those whom we choose to be with,but what about our enemies or those who wish us harm? Or what about those who actually cause us or our loved ones harm? How do we love our enemies?
I recall several years ago one of the fathers of an Oklahoma City bombing victim speak for the life of Timothy Mcveigh. Initially enraged, Bud Welch wanted vengeance. But after seeing the pain in Mcveigh's father's face, a pain that can only be borne of one who loves, he saw his own pain. His heart was transformed. Despite his sorrow, this father walked with Christ and attested to the sanctity of life, including the life of Timothy Mcveigh. He refused to allow hate or vengeance consume him. Even though Mcveigh never publicly showed remorse for his actions, Mr. Welch showed compassion for the love of God. He loved as Jesus commanded him. God is love and God is life. Eternal life. Mr Bud Welch is an Easter person.
Am I capable of loving that deeply? I pray that I am never put to the test as Mr. Welch was, but I did indeed find myself tested this past Triduum. My husband and I attended the Mass of the Lord's Supper on Holy Thursday. We listened to the readings of the Passover,where the Israelites were "passed over" by the by the Lord's wrath on the Egyptians. After Mass we were sitting in a ballpark enjoying my 19 year old son's church league softball game. During a break my son came over to speak with my husband. He divulged that he had been robbed at gun point at his apartment the night before and that he would be moving back in with us. Though shocked and a little scared at first, I quickly became giddy with feelings of God's blessing and mercy. I felt triumphant. God had protected my beloved son, my family was "passed over".
Good Friday brought me to a very different place. In my exuberant prayers of praise and thanksgiving, I felt so loved, so chosen. On that day, that Holy day when we recall the darkest day in history, the words of Jesus, resonated in my head,
"Father, forgive them. They know not what they do."
Briefly thoughts of the perpetrators crossed my mind. My spirit became troubled. I was personally convicted. In His words Jesus was speaking to God about me, about my sin. I had not prayed for the young men who had threatened my beautiful son. I had not prayed for their families or their plight. A plight that landed them in a state of such flagrant disregard for life-even their own life.
My prayer had only been about me and mine. It was selfish.
I pray for them now, and I ask you to pray for them as well. I forgive them and ask God to forgive me. I have disdain for their actions, but by God's grace alone I love them as Jesus commands me to. It's the Easter thing to do. I want to be remembered as one who loved.
Thank you Jesus for showing me how.
Am I an "Easter People" person? I am a work in progress.
He is Risen! He is Risen indeed!