In the Gospel account this week we are challenged to hear the narrative of Jesus’ experience on the cross. It is the account where He is being taunted by all around including the criminal crucified beside him. The second criminal asked for Jesus to “remember me when you come into your kingdom”, Jesus responded, “today you will be with me in paradise” – a full and unconditional love and forgiveness.
I am currently writing this whilst listening to a television programme about Christian extremism in America. The faith that condemns, judges and rejects others is one that I fail to recognise, to talk about a “Christian hate group” is incompatible to my understanding of faith, this is so far removed from the Gospel account we hear this week.
Ultimately the Christian faith, and all of Jesus’ teaching in the New Testament, can be summarised in two words – LOVE and FORGIVENESS. Instead of dividing people by religious belief we should find opportunities to celebrate our common humanity and what brings us together in our shared faith. We should rejoice and celebrate the common heritage of Christianity with Judaism and Islam and find opportunities to highlight this.
This is my faith – one that looks to embrace diversity, understanding and tolerance. We should give thanks for the opportunity to celebrate a faith of love and forgiveness. If this is the truth it truly sets us free.
A few questions for the week ahead;
- How can we seek out the truth of faith?
- What does it mean to accept Jesus’ love and forgiveness?
- How can we give young people a thirst to seek out faith and justice in the world that we live in?
- What can we do to challenge extreme views in the world and build a world of unity?