Hello Father Angelo,
I am a 15-year-old boy who has recently come back to faith after the call of the Lord in a time of deep doubts, and I thank you for what you do, because after hearing the call of the Lord I needed to nourish my faith and you are of great help to me.
Here is my question, and maybe it is a silly question, but I will ask anyway; when Jesus is crucified, he says: “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.” But since he was to atone for all sins, why did he utter that sentence, since he was to take upon Himself every sin committed by men, including putting Him to death.
Therefore, why ask the Father to forgive them, if He was to atone for them anyway?
I apologize if my question is silly, in fact I am a little ashamed to ask this question, but when I prayed to the Lord and the Holy Spirit to help me find the answer to my question, I felt drawn to write to you.
I thank you again for what you are doing and wish you well, may the Lord always be with you.
I offer you my wishes and I remember you in prayer.
Response from the priest
1. In saying “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do,” Jesus declares aloud his will to die in atonement for the sins of men.
His death was not a bump in the road, on the contrary he suffered and died because he wanted to die following this exact intention.
The prophet Isaiah had predicted it: “Oblatus est quia ipse voluit” (He was offered because he himself wanted; Is 53,7).
2. Furthermore, Jesus had taught us to forgive our enemies.
And now, at the moment of his greatest humiliation and his most atrocious suffering, saying “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do,” he gives us his example.
3. By suffering on the cross as a man and the head of humanity, Christ asks the Father to accept his sacrifice on behalf of men.
And the Father shows his acceptance by raising him from the dead.
4. But perhaps your question also wanted to ask something else: if Christ died for our sins, why is it necessary to go to confession?
Well, in order to be purified from sins it is not enough to know that Christ suffered in our place, but it is necessary that his blood and his merits reach every man and purify him.
It is as if it were said: finally, there is the solvent to remove any stain.
But until the solvent is put on the stain, the stain remains.
5. This is why Christ established the Sacrament of Penance or Confession by saying: “Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained” (Jn 20:23).
6. Christ therefore bestows his forgiveness, but his forgiveness only reaches those who repent and confess.
Otherwise, the sins remain, they “are retained.”
7. Speaking with St. Catherine of Siena, the Eternal Father says: “Divine charity knew the infirmity and frailty of man, because of which he sins, not as if he is forced by frailty of the flesh or by something else to commit the fault if he does not want, but, fragile as he is, he gives in to the guilt of mortal sin, by which he loses the grace received in holy baptism by virtue of the blood.
It was therefore necessary that he provided for men like a constant baptism of blood. It is received through contrition of heart and by holy confession, confessing the sin, when possible, to my ministers, who hold the key to the blood. This blood is cast by the priest, in the sacramental absolution, on the face of the soul.
So, you can see how constant this baptism is, in which the soul has to keep being baptized until the end, as we said” (Dialogue of Divine Providence 75).
8. Therefore, St. Catherine with every accent of her soul pleads: “Bathe in the blood of Christ crucified.
In his blood you will find the fire of love; in his blood you will wash your iniquities.
This is done by the priest, the vicar of Christ, when he absolves your soul as you go to confess: he does nothing but cast Christ’s blood on our heads.
Now is a very acceptable time (2 Cor 6,2), while man lives, not to despise this blood: because he is not sure when he should die, nor how long he should live.
Let him therefore go and vomit up the rottenness of his sins through his mouth, confessing himself well and diligently: in no other way could he partake of divine grace” (Letter 155).
I’m glad the Lord you appealed to brought you to our website.
I wish you well, I remember you in my prayer and I bless you.