Monday, March 18
Lent Calls Us to Look within Ourselves and to Take Inventory of Those Areas Which Require Our Attention, Those Areas Which Affect, in a Negative Way, Our Relationship with God, and How We Can Foster a Change within Ourselves for the Better.
In our First Reading today from the Book of the Prophet Daniel, we feel the earnestness and sincerity of Daniel’s prayer, confessing the weakness of his people, “We have sinned, been wicked and done evil; we have rebelled and departed from your commandments and your laws” – contrite words, steeped in humility and remorse, for having strayed from the ways of God, for having turned their backs on His providential Love.
On Ash Wednesday, we were reminded of our own mortality, that we are dust and unto dust we shall one day return. We are only on this Earth a short time. Our lifetime, even if it be seventy, eighty or ninety years for those so blessed, is not even a blink of the eye when compared to eternity. So how do we make good use of our time here in this life, a life which we have been freely given as a gift?
The Readings from Daniel and the Responsorial Psalm today are reminders of the human condition. They remind us that the human flesh is weak, and our inclination to sin against God’s Love is ever present, as a consequence of the sin of our first parents. It is as a result of Original Sin that our human nature is more inclined to fall into sin. This tendency is what is referred to as “concupiscence”.
And our psalmist reminds us today of the struggle which the flesh is constantly having with the spirit, “Help us, O God our savior, because of the glory of your name; Deliver us and pardon our sins for your name’s sake.”
But we also know that it is in Christ Jesus that our spirit is made whole, that we are strengthened and redeemed, for as Paul tells us in his Letter to the Romans:
“For just as through the disobedience of one person the many were made sinners, so through the obedience of one the many will be made righteous…where sin increased, grace overflowed all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through justification for eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Throughout this season of Lent, as the weeks lead us up to the moment of our Lord’s suffering and death on Calvary, our Scripture Readings call us to look within ourselves and to reflect upon our own human nature, upon our own weaknesses, and to take inventory as it were, making note of those areas which require our attention – those areas which affect, in a negative way, our relationship with God, and how we can foster a change within ourselves for the better.
In today’s Gospel, we hear our Lord teaching His disciples about mercy and compassion; and He is teaching each one of us as well, for His words are timeless, “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven. Give and gifts will be given to you…”
He calls you and me to a life of virtue, those characteristics which call us to be Christ-like – mercy, forgiveness and selfless charity. In our daily lives, we are each called to love others as our Lord loves us. We are each called to imitate the life He lived, a life which he freely chose to take upon Himself, so that He might teach us what it truly means to be a faithful child of God.
For Christianity is not a philosophy; it is not an ideology. Rather, it is the meeting of two persons – each one of us and Jesus Christ. And truly being Christian, truly being a disciple of our Lord calls us to emulate Him in all that we think, in all that we say and do.
And that is what makes us different; that is what makes Christianity distinct from any other religion. It is through the grace which God grants us that we are enabled to treat others not as we think they might deserve, but as God wishes them to be treated – with true compassion and loving kindness.
For some, it is difficult to accept the idea that God loves the unjust as well as the just. His Love embraces saint and sinner alike. God seeks our highest good, and teaches us to seek the greatest good of others, even those who hate and abuse us.
The love which we show towards others, even those who are ungrateful and selfish towards us, must be marked by the same kindness and mercy which God has shown to both you and me, the same kindness and mercy which we read about in the Gospels.
Yes, it is much easier to show kindness and mercy when we can expect to receive it in kind. How much harder is it then, when we can expect nothing in return?
When we show love and pray for those who do ill towards us, we break the cycle of sin and release the power of love to overcome the face of evil in our midst.
Our Lord tells us today, “For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you.”
As we travel through our Lenten journey and reflect within ourselves our own human weaknesses, as we live our faith in thought, word and deed daily, let us ask ourselves, “How do we want God to judge our thoughts, our words and actions when we are finally called from this life? What measure will be returned to each of us?”
The answer to these questions is ultimately up to you and me! May all that we do in the “here-and-now” truly imitate the life which Jesus has shown for each one of us, so that the measure we ultimately receive will be one which is “packed together, shaken down, and overflowing” with God’s unfathomable Love and limitless Mercy. †
Please Comment, Like and Share, and Suggest to your Facebook friends – to spread the message of God’s Merciful Love.
Por favor Comente, Le Gusta y Comparta, y Sugiera a tus amigos en Facebook – en difundir el mensaje del Misericordioso Amor de Dios.
Scripture for the Day:
- “We have sinned, been wicked and done evil; we have rebelled and departed from your commandments and your laws.” (Daniel 9:5)
- “By the sweat of your face shall you get bread to eat, until you return to the ground, from which you were taken; For you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” (Genesis 3:19)
- “Our life ebbs away under your wrath; our years end like a sigh. Seventy is the sum of our years, or eighty, if we are strong; Most of them are toil and sorrow; they pass quickly, and we are gone.” (Psalm 90:9-10)
- “Do not remember against us the iniquities of our forefathers; let your compassion move quickly ahead of us, for we have been brought very low. Help us, God our savior, on account of the glory of your name. Deliver us, pardon our sins for your name’s sake.” (Psalm 79:8-9)
- “For just as through the disobedience of one person the many were made sinners, so through the obedience of one the many will be made righteous…where sin increased, grace overflowed all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through justification for eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 5:19, 20b-21)
- “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven.” (Luke 6:36-37)
- “Give and gifts will be given to you; a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap. For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you.” (Luke 6:38)
- “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ but hates his brother, he is a liar; for whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.” (1 John 4:20)
- “Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God; everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God. Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love…if we love one another, God remains in us, and his love is brought to perfection in us.” (1 John 4:7-8, 12bc)
Prayer for the Day:
“Help me, O Lord, that my eyes may be merciful,
so that I may never suspect or judge from appearances,
but look for what is beautiful in my neighbors’ souls
and come to their rescue.
“Help me, that my ears may be merciful,
so that I may give heed to my neighbors’ needs
and not be indifferent to their pains and moanings.
“Help me, O Lord, that my tongue may be merciful,
so that I should never speak negatively of my neighbor,
but have a word of comfort and forgiveness for all.
“Help me, O Lord, that my hands may be merciful
and filled with good deeds,
so that I may do only good to my neighbors
and take upon myself the more difficult and toilsome tasks.
“Help me, that my feet may be merciful,
so that I may hurry to assist my neighbor,
overcoming my own fatigue and weariness.
My true rest is in the service of my neighbor.
“Help me, O Lord, that my heart may be merciful
so that I myself may feel all the sufferings of my neighbor.
I will refuse my heart to no one.
I will be sincere even with those who,
I know, will abuse my kindness…
“O my Jesus, transform me into Yourself,
for You can do all things.”
– Saint Faustina (Diary, 163)