On Passion Sunday, let us reflect upon the words of Pope Benedict XV. The holy Pope's encyclical, "On Peace and Reconciliation" was composed just after the conclusion of the Great War when palpable hatreds continued to fester in Europe, following the senseless slaughter. It is a lovely meditation on forgiveness of enemy, and true brotherly love. Sadly, there is even greater hatred in the world today, with Nations, peoples rejecting Christ and His Church.
“Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer. And you know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in himself. ”Our Lord Jesus Christ, in teaching us how to pray to God, makes us say that we wish for pardon as we forgive others: “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive them that trespass against Us.” And if the observance of this law is sometimes hard and difficult, we have not only the timely assistance of the grace of Our Divine Redeemer, but also His example to help us to overcome the difficulty. For as He hung on the Cross He thus excused before his Father those who so unjustly and wickedly tortured Him: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
We then, who should be the first to imitate the piety and loving kindness of Jesus Christ, whose Vicar, without any merit of Our own, We are; with all Our heart, and following His example, We forgive all Our enemies who knowingly or unknowingly have heaped and are still heaping on our person and Our work every sort of vituperation, and We embrace all in Our charity and benevolence, and neglect no opportunity to do them all the good in Our power. That is indeed what Christians worthy of the name ought to do towards those who during the war have done them wrong.
Christian charity ought not to be content with not hating our enemies and loving them as brothers; it also demands that we treat them with kindness, following the rule of the Divine Master Who “went about doing good and healing all that were oppressed by the devil”, and finished His mortal life, the course of which was marked by good deeds, by shedding His blood for them. So said St. John: “In this we have known the charity of God, because He hath laid down His life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. He that hath substance of this world and shall see his brother in need and shall shut up his bowels from him: how doth the charity of God abide in him? My little children, let us love not in word nor by tongue, but in deed and in truth.”