“I beheld the apostates with loathing, because they kept not to Your promise.” —Psalm 119:158
Faithful Jews at the time of the Maccabees suffered a cultural and religious takeover by the reigning Greek empire. Many lukewarm Jews renounced their faith, embracing the modern, though sinful, Greek lifestyle (1 Mc 1:15). Faithful Jews were condemned to death and forced to flee for their lives (1 Mc 1:50, 53).
Put yourself in the shoes of a faithful Jew. Imagine that your family left home and livelihood to flee the death sentence. Your aunt and cousins were brutally executed (see 1 Mc 1:60-61) after being reported to the government by a Jewish apostate, a former friend who abandoned both the faith and his fellow Jews. Years later, the safe practice of your faith is restored. Homeless and jobless, you return to Jerusalem and enter the temple to worship God. The man worshipping next to you is that same apostate whose testimony ravaged your family! How could you ever forgive such a person, much less share common fellowship?
Now put yourself at the foot of Jesus’ cross. In agony, Jesus repeats: “Father, forgive them; they do not know what they are doing” (see Lk 23:34). Any betrayal we’ve experienced pales compared to that of Jesus (see e.g. Ps 55:13-15). Yet Jesus would not think of His pain, but only of mercy and forgiveness for His offenders. Jesus traded innocence for punishment so that those who traded faith for betrayal could be saved. This level of forgiveness is humanly impossible, but “nothing is impossible with God” (Lk 1:37). Who has betrayed you? Forgive as Jesus forgave.
PRAYER: Father, forgive us as we forgive our betrayers (Mt 6:12).
PROMISE: “Your faith has healed you.” –Lk 18:42
PRAISE: St. Rose was born in France. Her ambition was to go to America and work among Native Americans. In God’s providence, she became a missionary to these people at 49 years of age.