By Andrew R. Duckworth

He was near death.
Death approached with a spear,
Not knowing that it would soon
Be conquered in a way unimaginable.
But those at the foot,
Mocking and disparaging,
He forgave them.
If I were near death,
And others had placed me there,
I might hate them.
Yet, He did not.
Knowing that they did not know,

He opened the heavens and shed His
Blood for those that did not know.

I rarely explain poetry anymore. This one doesn’t have much figurative language and it would seem that it would need no explanation. Yet, I feel compelled to explain a bit on its origin. I teach at a Catholic school, one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done with my life. We have Mass each Friday. Recently, Father Brett gave a homily that shook me. Everyone harbors some level of resentment in their heart and it is something that Christians, and plenty of others, are called to pray about, called to purge from their heart and soul. Father Brett was specifically speaking about resentment that we might harbor, specifically against others. He started by discussing the recent show The Chosen, a show that I also like for a wide variety of reasons. He started by stating that it is probably the best show depicting the lives of Jesus’s disciples. But he also shared that nothing can really go far enough. The disciples were not who we might consider “good” people. They were sinners. We get a bit of that from scripture, actually. Peter denied Jesus three times knowing exactly who He was, for crying out loud. What we do not get is the sins of the mind, the resentments that we can harbor, the private sins that are not immediately apparent. The disciples surely had their struggles with this as well! We are not perfect. It’s why a need for a savior even exists.

What struck me the hardest is when Father Brett began speaking of one of Jesus’s actions while he was being crucified. He forgave those who placed Him on the cross, forgave those who put Him to trial. He forgave. And it made me really think hard about the state of my own soul. Would I have done the same? No. That’s the honest answer. Forgiveness would have probably been the farthest thing away from my mind. But it wasn’t for Jesus. His love extended to everyone. His blood covered even those who had mocked Him most, even those who drove nails through his wrists and feet. He loved them. He loved those who hated him. It shook me because I’m not sure that this is something a lot of us can do or at least try to do but it is something WE ARE CALLED TO DO. I remembered thinking to myself this is something everyone NEEDS to hear and NOW. So, am I there yet? Am I at a place where I can say I would forgive those who hate me? No. I’m not. But I will tell you this: I am carrying that piece of scripture with me just a little bit closer than I had before. Every so often, God sends an angel to tell you the things you don’t want to hear because you need to. That is what Father Brett was for me that day.

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