Monday (March 5): Gospel Reading: Luke 6:36-38
36 Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.37 “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; 38 give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For the measure you give will be the measure you get back.”
Old Testament Reading: Daniel 9:4-10
4 I prayed to the LORD my God and made confession, saying, “O Lord, the great and terrible God, who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, 5 we have sinned and done wrong and acted wickedly and rebelled, turning aside from your commandments and ordinances; 6 we have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land. 7 To you, O Lord, belongs righteousness, but to us confusion of face, as at this day, to the men of Judah, to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to all Israel, those that are near and those that are far away, in all the lands to which you have driven them, because of the treachery which they have committed against you. 8 To us, O Lord, belongs confusion of face, to our kings, to our princes, and to our fathers, because we have sinned against you. 9 To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness; because we have rebelled against him, 10 and have not obeyed the voice of the LORD our God by following his laws, which he set before us by his servants the prophets.
Meditation: Do you pray for God’s mercy for your people and for yourself? And do you forgive those who wrong you? Daniel was ‘shamefaced’ before God because of the unfaithfulness of his people (see Daniel 9:4-10). He acknowklowledged the sins and failings of his own people, and he pleaded with God for compassion and pardon. When we are confronted with our sinful condition and failings we experience guilt and shame. This can often either lead us to cast off pride and make-belief or it can lead us to lose our inhibitions and fall into more shameless deeds! If we are utterly honest and humble before God, we will admit our sins and ask for his mercy and forgiveness. Do you know the joy and freedom of repentance, forgiveness, and a clean heart?
What makes Christians different and what makes Christianity distinct from any other religion? It is grace – treating others, not as they deserve, but as God wishes them to be treated – with loving-kindness and mercy. God is good to the unjust as well as the just. His love embraces saint and sinner alike. God seeks our highest good and teaches us to seek the greatest good of others, even those who hate and abuse us. Our love for others, even those who are ungrateful and selfish towards us, must be marked by the same kindness and mercy which God has shown to us. It is easier to show kindness and mercy when we can expect to benefit from doing so. How much harder when we can expect nothing in return. Our prayer for those who do us ill both breaks the power of revenge and releases the power of love to do good in the face of evil.
How can we possibly love those who cause us harm, ill-will, and grief? With God all things are possible. He gives power and grace to those who know his love and who ask for the gift and help of the Holy Spirit. Paul the Apostle reminds us that “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us” (Romans 5:5) God’s love conquers all, even our hurts, fears, prejudices and griefs. Only the cross of Jesus Christ and his victory over sin can free us from the tyranny of malice, hatred, revenge, and resentment, and give us the courage to overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21). Such love and grace has power to heal and to save from destruction. Do you know the power of Christ’s redeeming love and mercy?
“Lord Jesus, your love brings freedom and pardon. Fill me with your Holy Spirit and set my heart free that nothing may make me lose my temper, ruffle my peace, take away my joy, nor make me bitter towards anyone.”
8 Do not remember against us the iniquities of our forefathers; let your compassion come speedily to meet us, for we are brought very low.
9 Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of your name; deliver us, and forgive our sins, for your name’s sake!
10 Why should the nations say, “Where is their God?” Let the avenging of the outpoured blood of your servants be known among the nations before our eyes!
11 Let the groans of the prisoners come before you; according to your great power preserve those doomed to die!
12 Return sevenfold into the bosom of our neighbors the taunts with which they have taunted you, O Lord!
13 Then we your people, the flock of your pasture, will give thanks to you for ever; from generation to generation we will recount your praise.