Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day as we listened to the words of the Scriptures we are all reminded of the need for us all to forgive one another just as we ourselves have been forgiven by God for our mistakes and faults, that we imitate our heavenly Father in His mercy, compassion and love just as we always pray in the Lord’s Prayer, ‘Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us’.
In our first reading today we heard from the Book of the prophet Daniel, the prayer which he made and addressed to God, seeking for His mercy and forgiveness for all the sins and faults committed by the people of Israel, pleading for His mercy and compassionate love. God has kept His Covenant and remained faithful to the promises He made to His people despite all that they have committed, the sins and wickedness they have done and their rejection of God.
Yet, because of their sins and disobedience, the Israelites have been scattered and humiliated by their enemies, defeated and sent into exile by first the Assyrians and then those in Judah by the Babylonians. Daniel was among those who have been sent into the exile in Babylon, enduring many trials and difficulties as a people brought low and humbled by God. But Daniel also kept faith in God and trusted in His providence and love for His people.
That is why in his prayer, Daniel sought God’s forgiveness for His people while also admitting the sins on behalf of the people, admitting their past shortcomings and all the wicked things they have done in opposition to God. Daniel presented to us this faith which we all must have in God’s ever enduring mercy and love for us. For if not for God’s ever enduring love and compassion, we would have been annihilated a long while ago because of our sins.
God has kindly extended to us His mercy and His willingness to forgive us from our many sins, provided that we are willing to accept His offer of mercy and be converted from our sinfulness to righteousness. God indeed does not despise us the sinners, but He does despise our sins and iniquities. That is why He has repeatedly tried to bring us out of the trap of sin, reminding us to change our ways and to repent from our wicked past that we may be reconciled with Him once again.
That is why it is very important for us to have humility in us and the willingness to admit that we have been wrong in our ways and that we need God’s healing and mercy. And we often need to practice that same mercy in our own lives as well so that we may appreciate what it means to be shown mercy and to be forgiven. This is why as long as we do not forgive others, keep hatred and jealousy, anger and vengeance in our hearts, we will find it hard to allow God’s forgiveness to enter into us.
Too often we are too proud in our hearts to admit our mistakes or that we have been wrong or faulty in our ways. We are too proud to admit that we are not as good as what we think we are or what we want others to think of us. This is the obstacle that we need to overcome especially in this good time and opportunity given to us in this season of Lent, to be more open to God’s loving compassion and mercy, and show that same mercy and love in our own interactions with one another.
Today, we celebrate the feast of St. Frances of Rome, a holy woman and saint of the Church whose life can be a source of inspiration for all of us on how we should live our own lives in a good Christian manner as we should. St. Frances was born a noble and was made to marry at an early age following her family’s wishes, ending up as a wife and the matron of her family. St. Frances however was also known for her great love and charitable acts for the poor and the needy in her community.
St. Frances turned a part of her large family estate into a hospital for the poor and the sick, and distributed much needed goods for those who have little or none to get by. Initially she encountered opposition from her in-law family, but it was told that the opposition vanished when miraculously, the storehouses were filled up through the prayers of St. Frances, after she had donated part of her goods to the poor and the needy.
She also inspired the foundation of the religious order, the Olivetan Oblates of Mary whose members carry on the charism and inspiring works of St. Frances who had given much of her life to serve the people of God despite her privileged background of nobility. St. Frances could have been like many of the other nobles of her time, living in excesses and acting with much pride and ego, looking down on the poor and the needy. St. Frances instead got rid of all that pride and ego, and reached out to her fellow men, loving them and caring for them, being patient with those who opposed her efforts and filled her life with prayer and piety.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, are we able to live our Christian faith through our lives just as St. Frances had lived it? Are we able to turn our lives into testimonies of our faith in God, and that our lives may indeed give glory to God? Let us all dedicate ourselves anew to God and make good use of this time and opportunity given to us that we may be able to open ourselves to God and allow His mercy to work in us and through us, that we may be truly reconciled to Him and be forgiven from our sins.
May the Lord continue to guide us and help us to journey towards Him in this season of Lent. May He bless us all and our good works, that we may touch even more people through our lives as we become more attuned to God with each and every passing moments of our lives. St. Frances of Rome, our inspiration and our role model in faith, pray for us all. Amen.