We are in the second week of Lent and our readings for today immerse us even more deeply into the mystery of God’s mercy and compassionate love. But gratefully, we are also shown a better way to make a difference where it can really count. Let’s revisit the people’s plaintive plea from the book of Deuteronomy:
“Lord, great and awesome God, you who keep your merciful covenant toward those who love you and observe your commandments! We have sinned, been wicked and done evil; we have rebelled and departed from your commandments and your laws. We have not obeyed your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes, our fathers, and all the people of the land. Justice, O Lord, is on your side; we are shamefaced even to this day…”
We are “shamefaced”, so painfully aware of our sins and transgressions against all that is good and holy. And so, we cry out to God above and plead for God’s mercy and forgiveness. This cry out to the Lord is so very appropriate for all of us today as we see the horrid and tyrannical transgressions against God’s love and justice so present in our own land and in the world itself! Repeatedly, in the psalm response for today’s Eucharist, we hear ourselves chanting, “Lord, do not deal with us according to our sins!”
And how does the Lord respond? The answer is so clear as we listen to the message proclaimed in the Gospel of Luke. Be merciful as our Father in Heaven is merciful. Don’t judge and condemn others. Forgive and love one another. How can we expect to receive God’s mercy and love when we refuse to offer the same thing to one another!
What I most appreciate about the readings from the Liturgy today is that what seems so overwhelming when we view all the evil around us can be transformed so simply if we only do what the Lord has asked of us from the very beginning. Love one another; forgive and be merciful. Then we will know mercy and love ourselves, and the world will not be the same! It just has to start with each of us in our own way. If we want the Lord to be kind and merciful to us, shouldn’t we all do the same for one another? It has to begin somewhere. It has to begin with us, right here and right now!
Fr. Pat Brennan, C.P. is the director of Saint Paul of the Cross Passionist Retreat and Conference Center, Detroit, Michigan.