Lent is a good time to reflect on how “we have sinned, been
wicked and done evil; [how] we have rebelled and departed from [God’s] commandments
and [God’s] laws” (Dn 9:5); and for us to appeal to God for compassion
and forgiveness. Today though Jesus tells us we must be just as compassionate
and forgiving to each other as God is to us! Jesus even taught us to
pray, “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against
us.” How do we put those words into action?
Yes, maybe we can forgive our spouse for being crabby and maybe we can try
to forgive our co-worker for embarrassing us in front of the boss.
We may even be able to forgive those who have ridiculed us or misunderstood
us. But, our world is dangerous and people are cruel. We must
protect ourselves, protect our loved ones and protect our interests.
God cannot mean that we must forgive abusers, murderers and terrorists!
Yet, that is exactly what God means. The verses just ahead of our reading
today are about loving our enemies and verse 35 ends with “God is kind to
the ungrateful and the wicked.” God forgives us so often it is hard
for us to grasp let alone believe. God’s mercy is universal, constant
and unconditional. If we are to be “merciful as God is merciful” (v
36) our mercy needs to be universal, constant and unconditional.
So what is our reaction? Disbelief; this is not realistic, rational
or practical. How is this possible? Yet, Jesus gives us constructive
ideas today that can help us. He tells us to change our attitude, to
change our hearts, (another common Lenten theme). “Stop judging and
you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned.
Forgive and you will be forgiven. Give and you will receive the same
measure in return” (Lk 6:37-38). Why does this seem counter-intuitive
to us? Is it because of our historical, social or cultural experience
teaches us that people can be harsh, vengeful, judgmental, greedy, severe
What does our spiritual intuition tell us though? Mine says that we
are all alike in our humanness. That all of us (surely me) “miss the
mark” most of the time and require repentance and forgiveness. My spiritual
intuition and my experience of my God says that I am forgiven; I have been
forgiven often and I know from my experience that I will continue to be forgiven,
not because I deserve it, but because God loves me so very much. If
God loves an imperfect sinful person like me then God must love everyone
else in this world just as much.
God created our human nature, our essence of being, in God’s likeness.
Therefore, it is in our essence to love ourselves and others and to forgive
ourselves and others without limit! That is the challenge and our mission
(if we choose to accept it); to search deep into our essence past the corruption
and the doubt, past the fear and the self-righteousness and to love and forgive
even though we are only human. All things are possible with God! (Mt
Dear God, this Lent as we reflect on all You have given us and the
ultimate sacrificial love of Jesus, change our hearts, strengthen our faith
and help us to trust in Your love. May Your love heal our hurts, fears,
prejudices and grief’s. May Your love give us the courage to return
evil with good, to break the cycle of hate, violence and war with a response
of love and forgiveness. Help us to not act in kind but to act in kindness
to men and women of all races and languages so the earth will be filled with
Your glory. May Your kingdom come, Your will (not ours) be done, on
earth as it is in heaven. AMEN!