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Just as the Father Is…
Monday of the Second Week of Lent
Jesus said to his disciples: “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven. Give and gifts will be given to you; a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap. For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you.”
Opening Prayer: Heavenly Father, you reveal yourself to me as the merciful giver of gifts. You yourself are that gift, and you wish to share some part of your heart with me in this time of prayer. Grant that I may enter this sacred space and time of encounter with you, and open my heart to receive the graces which you so generously give me. You are Giver, God, and I praise you for your generosity. Although it is small, I give you my heart, too, that you may fill me with yourself and give yourself to others through me.
- Standards: Jesus began this teaching with a telling phrase: just as. He invites us to be merciful, but not according to our own standards. He himself is that standard. It’s clear from the Old Testament, for example, that we all too easily revert to making ourselves the standard. Look at the journey of the Chosen People to the Promised Land. They constantly vacillated between following the Lord, who had chosen them and was teaching them to be his own, to looking for other gods that they could shape according to their own image. Even in the New Testament, we see this same tendency among the Twelve Apostles. The other ten were angered with James and John, for example, not so much because they wanted the seats of honor beside Jesus, but because the two brothers asked for it before they did (Mark 10:35).
- Just As: The standard that Jesus came to reveal puts our human tendencies in their place. Making our shortsighted understanding the measuring stick doesn’t cut it in following the Lord. Neither do our measures of human importance or value. God himself is the measure. We are not called to forgive just once or twice, but as God forgives us (Matthew 18:21). We are called to give, to measure out to others, with the very measure of God; not by judging others, which leads to condemnation, but with an open, generous heart that gives forgiveness and mercy.
- Mercy: Only when we experience that he alone who can judge the world extends an outstretched hand to us in mercy; only when we experience in our own flesh, our own life, and our personal history that the only one who could condemn us has offered his own self in our place; only when we experience that he, from whom all goodness flows, pours himself out in generosity and gratuity in our hearts, not because we deserve it, but because he loves us—indeed when we experience these things they change us truly, from within, making us capable of giving that same love to others. We need to experience this mercy from God daily.
Conversing with Christ: Jesus, I recognize my need for your mercy; I open my heart and quiet my mind before you. Let me experience your gaze, your goodness, your generosity. You truly are the Giver of gifts, Jesus, and you are the greatest gift. Let me experience your love more deeply so that you can make me, too, your instrument for others.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will strive to offer a real, practical expression of mercy to someone whom I have been struggling to forgive.
For Further Reflection: You may wish to pray the Litany of Humility in light of Jesus’ invitation in today’s Gospel.
Beth Van de Voorde is a Regnum Christi Consecrated Woman, currently serving in pastoral ministry to families in Madrid and Valencia, Spain. When she’s not reading Ratzinger or humming along to some song or another, you may find her making her pilgrim way through Spain’s timeless history of faith, walking alongside the beautiful families and young people she’s there to serve.