20. Coming Out of the Spiral of Evil: The Pardon

We have seen that the Devil-Iblis didn’t succeed in seducing ‘Issa (Jesus) into the destructive spiral of evil; and so, he has concentrated all the evil of the world against him. The film of Mel Gibson shows and suggests at the same time that he suffered in his flesh and in his spirit more than anyone in the world, he who was the only man totally innocent of evil. Now the Gospel of Luke relates his last words: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23, 34).

To forgive? In Antiquity before Jesus Christ, the only example of forgiveness that the great philosopher Aristotle gave was that of a mother who pardons her little child: she does it in view of the future, for she believes that her child will become better (and she will educate him with that in mind). Aristotle finds no other example. Only the victim can forgive; why would he do it? Does God Himself pardon? In the Koran, from the Fatiḥa, we read that God is Raḥmān / Raḥīm, two very close forms that correspond more or less with mercy-giving and merciful [1]. The God who gives mercy (Raḥmān) – that is to say, who is moved and wants the good of men – is merciful in Himself (Raḥīm). Is He ready to pardon, or does He hold a blind account of acts good and evil while arousing both the ones and the others?

The ten commandments dictated to Moses [Mussa] taught men how not to sin against their Creator, and then all the history of the Hebrews was a long education teaching them to respect the laws of God. They have discovered that God wants to save them from the influence of Evil because, like a mother, God sees above all the life of his creatures and it is why he offers pardon to those who repent, before justice intervenes: “Thou dost overlook men’s sins, that they may repent […] Thou sparest all things, for they are thine, O Lord who lovest the living” (Wisdom 11, 23-26). If God offers the possibility of repenting (and of atoning what can be), shall man not do the same with regard to others who have harmed him? Shall not the possibility of pardon take priority over vengeance and the law of “eye for eye, tooth for tooth”?

By his proper strength, man cannot propose the pardon. One alone has opened this road and it is ‘Issa (Jesus). For this road implies God. This is the secret of the pardon. To forgive is first of all this: to entrust to God the evil suffered and the cause to defend, and to open a door for a future when He will intervene.

It is to come out of the spiral of Evil by an act of faith. God is almighty but he waits that we give these situations to him. Jesus could have made fire fall from the sky on Judas or the Sanhedrin well ahead of being handed over to be crucified. He gave all to his Father, he gave himself entirely (Mt 27, 46). And Evil lost its power. Also, Jesus has become the one by whom we can come out of the spiral of Evil and the influence of sin: by him, God “remits” the sins of someone who repents. Jesus can offer the pardon of God even to the worst criminal –as in the case of one of the two who was crucified at his right and who asked pardon. In the midst of death, he gave Life. It is a unique power that Jesus holds and which he has transmitted to his apostles, otherwise we would have to speak only in the past tense. Today like yesterday, these signs of life show us this power of Jesus: “But that you may know that the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins – he then said to the paralytic – Rise, take up your bed and go home. And he rose and went home” (Matthew 9, 6-7).


[1] Bi-smi Llah r-raḥmān raḥīm.

Christ misericordieux

Choir of the Sretensky Monastery - "Cherubic Hymn" (G. Lvovsky)