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Reflections on Our Saviour’s Seven Words from the Cross – Word One: Forgive

April 10, 2017

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

These are the first words of Our Lord from the Cross. What is my first thought when someone hurts me? What is my first reaction? What if they caused me not just pain, but the uttermost agony? This is what happened to Jesus. The usual reaction from those who were being crucified was to yell out and hurl curses, as we can all understand. But this Jesus does not do. Instead, the very first thing he does is to pray for those who are the very cause of his suffering. What amazing love (both quality and quantity) would have to fill his heart for him to do this!

Reflection: Whatever sins I commit, they will always move Jesus’ heart to offer this prayer for me.

After Coventry Cathedral had been blitzed in 1940, the authorities raised up in the ruins a huge cross made of two charred beams of wood. On the cross they inscribed the words ‘Father, forgive.’ Two words, mark you; not three. The omission of the word ‘them’ is eloquent. They might have said ‘Forgive those who perpetrated this awful deed; forgive them.’ What their omission says by its very silence is this: The hands of all of us are stained. We all share what John calls ‘the sin of the world’ (John 1:29), its hate, its lust for power, its envy. … Father forgive.

(Donald Coggan, The Voice from the Cross, page 5, alt.)


I plan to add one or two reflections each day on Our Lord’s seven words from the Cross this Holy Week, from today through to Good Friday.

My reflection in 2015 for Monday in Holy Week can be accessed by clicking here.

A reflection by the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, on the purpose of Holy Week can be accessed by clicking here.

A written reflection by Archbishop Rowan on the purpose of Holy Week can be accessed by clicking here.

The Resources’ Table in the Hall will also have reflections in hard copy added each day of Holy Week.

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