Jesus said to his disciples:”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; a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing,will be poured into your lap. For the measure you measure will in return be measured out to you.” Lk 6,36-38
Mercy is the theme of our readings this second week of Lent. Last week’s readings were a basic catechesis on prayer, centered around the Our Father that Jesus taught his disciples in his Sermon on the Mount. In this week’s gospel readings, mostly from Luke’s Sermon on the Plain, Jesus calls all people to “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”
“Just as your Father is merciful.” God’s mercy is expressed in Luke’s beautiful story of the Prodigal Son, usually read Saturday this week as a summary of the week’s teaching, but not read this week because the Feast of St. Joseph is celebrated that day.
The father of the prodigal son neither judges nor condemns his son. He takes nothing away from him. Instead, he calls for a bountiful feast. “Bring a robe–the best one–and put it on him, put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.”
God’s mercy is like that, surprising, boundless, unmeasured.
Today’s important Old Testament reading from the Prophet Daniel reminds us that God is merciful not only to individuals, but also to the whole world. Daniel is a faithful Jew immersed in a complicated world of exile – Babylon. But even there, God remembers his mercy.
“Great and awesome God,” Daniel prays, “we have 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.” Still, God’s mercy blesses this world too, as the Prophet Jeremiah predicted.
Daniel sees himself as one with the world and its people, even in their guilt. He accepts the consequences of living in a sinful world. He’s not like the elder son who sees nothing of himself in his prodigal brother. Daniel’s ready to go into the lion’s den of his world. God’s mercy is also there.
Daniel is a figure of Jesus who identifies with sinful humanity and shares in its suffering. He brings mercy to the world. Not only does he endure the world’s suffering, he helps the poor–another sign of God’s mercy, as Luke’s gospel insists in other readings this week.
“Be merciful, just as your Heavenly Father is merciful.”
Lord, great and awesome God, teach me to be merciful as you are, for your mercy brings hope to me and to the world I live in. Amen