Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the Scripture readings which message to us is very clear, a call to repentance, to turn away from our sins, and for us to practice forgiveness and mercy in our own lives as Christians. This is essential especially as this season of Lent is a time for us to take stock of our lives thus far, and to reevaluate our life priorities and choices.
In the first reading today, taken from the Book of the prophet Daniel, we heard how Daniel represented the people of Israel in their combined sorrow and regret for their sinful ways, for their wickedness, and for their refusal to listen to God and to the warnings and reminders which He had given to them through the prophets. They continued to sin and to disobey God, worshipping pagan gods and idols instead of the Lord their God, and as a result, they were left to the hands of their enemies.
After having their cities destroyed and the whole population brought off to the faraway Babylon, into a life of misery and exile, having experienced the destruction of the Temple which had stood since the day of king Solomon, the people of Israel longed again for the days in which God once showed great graces and blessings to His people, when they were faithful to Him and followed His ways.
Yet, despite all the sins they have done, all the repeated offences they have committed again and again, their stubbornness and hardened hearts, God did not harden His heart against them. Despite His anger against them, ultimately what He hated from them was their sins and their disobedient actions. He still loved them very much, each and every one of them as a loving Father Who created them and made them.
In the Gospel passage today, from the Gospel of St. Luke, we heard from the Lord Himself, the same truth He had shown to His people earlier on. God is merciful and forgiving, especially with us His beloved sons and daughters, as He is Our loving Father, and He provides us with opportunities, one after another, to be forgiven from our sins, providing that we are willing to do whatever is necessary to receive and accept God’s generous offer of mercy.
He led His people Israel back to the land promised to them and to their ancestors, after the time of Daniel, after they had shown remorse and regret for their sins. He renewed the Covenant He had made with their ancestors, through the prophets Ezra and Nehemiah, and they became His beloved ones once again, and He became their God, and the Temple was rebuilt in Jerusalem.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, during this time of Lent, we are called to be merciful as Our Lord and Father has been merciful to us, having forgiven us our many sins and trespasses because He loves each and every one of us, desiring greatly to be reunited with us. However, it is sad to note that it is we ourselves who refused God’s offer of mercy, by constantly and continuing to sin against Him, living in selfishness and succumbing to our human desires and wants for the pleasures of the body.
And we ourselves were not able to be merciful, showing anger and keeping grudges against each other. We easily become angry against our fellow brethren, even against our own beloved ones, our own families and relatives. How can we then show mercy against our enemies and those who hate us, if we cannot even forgive and show mercy to those who are dear and close to us?
Brothers and sisters in Christ, the reason for many of these grievances and unfortunate actions are our ego, our pride and our selfishness. We live in a world where the individual reigns supreme, and the needs and wants of our individual, the ‘I’ and the ‘Me’ reign supreme above everything else. That is why when someone insults us or make us angry, we often lash out back at the person with anger and keep grudges against that person.
But that is not what all of us are taught to do as Christians. Being Christians means that we follow the example of Christ, and Christ’s example is one of forgiveness and love. He forgave the woman caught with adultery, telling her not to sin again. He forgave those who condemned Him to death on the cross, and prayed for their sake. He told His disciples to do the same, and one of His followers, St. Stephen, imitated the Lord’s examples, forgiving those who killed him with stone.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard all these as reminders for us as Christians that we need to practice mercy in our lives and show love to one another just as much as we need to love God before everything else, especially before we love ourselves and put ourselves lower in priority than God and our fellow men. Let us make this to be our Lenten resolution and commitment to be an ever better and devoted Christian.
May the Lord be with us all, that He may continue to awaken in our hearts, the strong desire to love Him and to serve Him with love, by caring for all those around us who are in need of His love. May the Lord bless us all, now and forevermore. Amen.