I heard another story this week, as story that comes directly from the Passion of Our Lord, but in today’s time. Brian Lehrer of WNYC interviewed a woman called Jeanne Bishop, who has just released a memoir called Change of Heart: Justice, Mercy, and Making Peace with my Sister’s Killer. She told the story of her sister’s murder, and how she put her hands over her head, and the killer shot her in her stomach, and as she lay dying, she took her fingers and dipped them in her own blood, and drew a heart on the floor and next to the heart wrote “you.” Her dying act was to tell her killer she loved him. She didn’t know him, but she forgave him. Jeanne Bishop said, “In her last moments she wasn’t thinking of vengeance or retribution, but she was thinking of love. The killer thought he had silenced her forever when he shot her, but he didn’t. She had the last word, and that last word was love.”
She was able to do this because she believed that through Christ, all can be forgiven, and all can be redeemed. And with her dying act, she did precisely as Christ did, and forgave her killer. Can you imagine being part of that story? Can you imagine forgiveness? Jeanne Bishop thought she could never forgive the killer—but as she imagined her sister and her witness, she prayed and asked God to help her forgive, because she imagined Jesus, and his words: forgive them.
But that is what we come tonight to hear. We come to imagine forgiveness. We imagine it for ourselves; we imagine it for others. Imagining it is the first step to doing it, and in doing it, we live into the image of God. That is tonight’s story, this passion of Jesus, and that’s why we read it, to be reminded of what God has done for us—God, who understands the worst in us, but still gives us the last word: love. Amen.