Jesus says ‘them’ – not him, not Judas who betrayed Him, not Peter who denied Him, not Jacob who drove the nails into his hands, but ‘them’ - all of them including us, including me. At the very moment that each of us is turning against Him, He is forgiving us. Whether I am attacking Him directly, as in the Eucharist, or indirectly through my neighbor, He has prayed for my forgiveness even before I have sinned. What an experience! To be loved so much that I am forgiven before I have asked for forgiveness. This awakens much gratitude in me. If I am loved that much, I want to return that love, and therefore I will make every effort not to offend my Lover again.
Can I offer the same forgiveness to those who offend me? It is very hard to do, but the examples of many saints show that it is not impossible, but can be done with God’s grace. If we but ask our generous God, He will give us this precious grace. Lent is a special time of special graces. I want to use it well and will begin by asking for the grace of forgiving others as Christ has forgiven me.