To whom forgiveness is given???
I am taking four events from the Christian history. First one is the parable of the prodigal son. The second is the moment of Jesus on the cross. The third is during the stoning of Stephen, considered the first Christian martyr. And the last one is the dying scene of Maria Goretti (a young Italian Saint). Is there something common in all the four scenes?
- One of the options is that there is a certain crime in all the scenes, though their degree in the last three scenes are quite different from the first one.
- A more interesting option is the question of forgiveness.
Forgiveness is not a new Christian theme. It was already there in some form in the ancient testament. Many of the contemporary philosophers (who may not be Christian or Jewish, except in their backgrounds) do speak a lot about forgiveness too. Now what was the common aspect of forgiveness in all the four scenes.
- Younger son wasted his entire share of the property. In the moment of extreme distress (no other option available), he thought of returning to the father and to become his servant. He came back; whether he wanted to ask for pardon is a big question; he just wanted to survive as a servant. But the father takes him back and throws a party.
- Jesus prayed at the cross, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing”. He is not forgiving some soldiers who already shows signs of repentance.
- Stephen was stoned to death; he uttered before his death: “ Lord, do not hold this sin against them.”
- Maria Goretti, a young girl, was stabbed 14 times by one of her friend for not giving into his sexual advances. Before her death, he forgave the assassin.
The interesting point in all the four scenes (might be a little less in the first scene) is that forgiveness is given to the person without even them asking for it. There is not even a sign of repentance. Some of those forgiven were transformed later, but that is a later story.
This is the crazy demand of Jesus, followed by some Christians, which makes Christianity too complicated. Or much away from the economy of exchange. (if you repented, I will forgive; if you do reparation, i will forgive). Forgiveness doesn’t mean that the fault (or sin or cruelty) committed is accepted or justified, but forgiveness is freely given. Or forgiveness is a gift.
NB: Don’t ask whether his disciples or the Church follows it. You are the best judge.
- Writings of John Caputo is all over in the article, and I am extremely grateful to him.