Forgiveness that leads to Good Friday | Daily News

Forgiveness that leads to Good Friday

During this period of Lent millions of believers who profess to follow Jesus Christ reflect on his sacrifice. As Christians, we will soon commemorate Good Friday and subsequently Easter Sunday. The latter is now coming to be termed as Resurrection Sunday.

One of my friends casually asked me “What is the goodness in Good Friday?” In order to gain some insight into the “goodness” of the death of Jesus, we must understand the significance of blood within the mortal perception. Since the beginning of civilisation and our existence, blood was and will remain the ultimate symbol of life. In the Old Testament of the Holy Bible, there are many instances of sacrifices offered to Almighty God - YHWH (in Hebrew). We see this in the story of Abraham where he was asked to sacrifice his son, Isaac, as a test of his obedience. Yet God only tested him and did not take the life of the boy. Obedience is better than sacrifice as the Holy Bible says.

Jesus Christ was unblemished and innocent. Reverting to that question of goodness is that the blood of Jesus Christ is the final atonement for the remission of our sins, as we believe. That is the liberating power in the blood of Christ. We cannot outgive his ultimate sacrifice. The lesson therein is forgiveness. Jesus forgave those who despised and killed him. He could have reacted in many ways but he chose to forgive the cruel Roman soldiers and self-righteous Pharisees who plotted to put him on that rugged cross.

One of the attributes that is sometimes forgotten in our life is that of forgiveness. In the events that lead to the crucifixion of Jesus he amply demonstrated his ability to forgive. He decided to forgive his own disciple Judas - one of the 12. Judas betrayed his master with a deceptive kiss. In the end we see Judas overcome by guilt committing suicide by hanging from a tree. I might add this is the power of forgiveness. Whilst it will bring inner healing and freedom to you it will land heavily on the conscience of the person who has hurt you and wronged you. In the presence of Pilate the Roman authority, Jesus remained silent against the false allegations. Sometimes our silence is the best answer to those who desire to wrongfully accuse us. In the Bible narrative when the soldiers came to arrest Jesus, one of the disciples Peter - surprisingly took out a sword (or knife) and cut the ear of one of the servants of the High Priest. Again Jesus showed forgiveness and restored that servant’s ear.

As we all know since April 21, 2019, the Catholic Church and the wider Christian community have been terribly saddened by the cowardly attacks on three selected churches. The Colombo Archbishop Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith displayed the true hallmark of a Christian leader and pleaded for his flock to show restraint and forgive, but continues to boldly agitate for justice. I have visited all three churches. I was there when the floors were washed by the Navy at St. Anthony’s Church, and human blood was slowly removed. I was there to see grieving parents at St. Sebastian Church, Katuwapitiya which suffered the most number of deaths. I heard the anguished cry of parents and family members. I undertook the long journey to Batticaloa to see the Zion Church, where innocent Sunday School children were blown away by the explosion. At all three locations, I confess that I felt an intense rage. But as I looked towards the altar my anger was slowly replaced with compassion and a sea of sadness. My mortal mind demanded justice for my dead brothers and sisters. I am sure hundreds of other Christians would have gone through these emotions.

The ability to forgive is a process. You cannot acquire it from a miracle service or a spiritual workshop. It is a biblical habit that has to be cultivated and practised with the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Today there is hatred towards the Muslim community in Sri Lanka by some. This is not the right attitude. Yes, we must condemn and wipe out radicalized religious extremism that manifests as domestic terrorism. I have decent law-abiding Muslim classmates. I have been able to meet sincere dedicated Muslim officers in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Police and Special Task Force. Some of these gallant Muslim officers have died in the defence of Sri Lanka. My trusted dentist is a Muslim gentleman. I am simply implying that we must not generalize and brand a community due to the actions of a few violent extremists.

To the Christian forgiveness can be challenging, but we must mirror the love of Jesus. This is the mandate of the Holy Bible. During this time of Lent let us endeavour to forgive. Let us embrace the diversity of Sri Lanka. We must put aside religious intolerance and come together. We must facilitate inter-faith dialogue and lead by example. The greater “goodness” out of Good Friday is the magnificent victory over death and sin. Jesus Christ is raised and reigns in heaven. The devil is defeated. How does the glory of his resurrection impact you? Again I am bewildered to see the commercialization of “Easter Sunday” with chocolate bunnies and succulent buffets by the hotel industry, globally. The resurrection and ascension of Jesus paved the way for his comforter - the Blessed Holy Spirit to come and be a part of our lives. Life is not a rainbow - we all face challenges. You will walk in lonely valleys and face rejection. You will be hurt and deceived. Yet the Holy Spirit will guide you, empower you and renew your mind - towards Christ likeness. You must be tested to be trusted. We will face wicked people who will challenge us and temptations which entice us. To the Christian, the ultimate reward is in heaven. The pulse of Easter Sunday is to rise above the injustice and hatred, and show forgiveness. May God bless and comfort all those families who continue to mourn for their dead. Jesus stands beside you and sees your tears. May we manifest God's love. Let us project our spirit of brotherhood within one united Sri Lanka, our beautiful Motherland.