Today’s message from Jesus is not an easy message to receive. Jesus is telling his disciples (and us) to be merciful. Jesus instructs us to be merciful as His Father is merciful. What a challenge this may be. The call to be merciful is not an easy or desired call!
Two ideas stand out clearly in the prayer of Daniel and they are coupled with utmost sincerity, namely, ‘we have sinned, we have done wrong; to the Lord of our God mercy and pardon belong.’ Lord, is yours’.
Acceptance of one’s wrongdoings, failures and sinfulness coupled with contrition is the basic attitude of the one who wants to bring about conversion of heart, true metanoia, genuine transformation of one’s life, person transfiguration. In order to be reconciled with God we must become aware of our sinfulness as this awareness, motivates us to work towards the forgiveness of our sinfulness as this awareness motivates us to work towards the forgiveness of our sin and being contrite strengthens our resolve to return to God.
Prophet Daniel is aware not only of one’s personal sinfulness but sinfulness of the community as a whole. He says, ‘we have sinned, we have done wrong; we have acted wickedly, we have betrayed your commandments; we have not listened to your servants the prophets; ours the look of shame we wear today; the treason we have committed against you; to us the look of shame belongs, to our kings, our princes, our ancestors….’ We need to be contrite an ask forgiveness not only for personal but the collective sin of our families, communities, parishes, church and humanity as a whole. Pope John Paul II being much aware of the collective sins of the Church asked publicly forgiveness for them. So too did our present holy father Pope Francis.
Secondly Prophet Daniel says that to the Lord our God belong pardon and mercy. God’s forgiveness and mercy are gifts of the Lord.
“Mercy is the Lord’s most powerful message. It’s not easy to trust oneself to the mercy of God because His mercy is an unfathomable abyss but we must do it” Pope Francis, Homily March 17, 2012.
“Only someone who has encountered mercy, who has been caressed by the tenderness of mercy, is happy an comfortable with the Lord.” Pope Francis, National Catholic Reporter, March 2013.
“A little bit of mercy makes the world less cold and more just.” Pope Francis, Homily on March 17, 2013.
Can you remember someone who has forgiven you for something that you did to hurt them? What a wondrous gift they gave you. The gift of forgiveness frees both parties. When the person who is hurt forgives the other, they can move forward in their lives freely. They no longer will be tethered to the hurt and anger they had been carrying. And the individual who is forgiven also is freed and graced!
I assume we all have been hurt by others and in turn, we also have hurt people in our lives. If someone forgives us for the pain we have caused them, what a great gift we have been given! Today, may we seriously ask ourselves: am I willing take the step to forgive (insert name)? The answer may not be an immediate yes, but we will have opened the door and taken the first step!
Today, may we pray for the grace we need to take a first step! And may we pray for each other that each of us will have the courage and strength and move towards forgiveness and mercy. If we do so, the other person will be freed and we also will be freed. What a great gift to give to the other person, ourselves and our world!
God bless. Have a blessed day.