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Mercy and Generosity
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: Lord, help me to listen and understand your words so that I may be more and more the disciple that you intended me to be when you made me.
1. The Father’s Mercy: The Father is infinitely merciful. He is ready to forgive anyone who asks for pardon, no matter how big the sin is. He forgave the disobedience of Adam and Eve—the greatest sin in history. He would have forgiven Judas if he had asked for forgiveness. Even if our desire for forgiveness is not perfect–even if our motivation is only to avoid going to hell rather than sorrow for having hurt others or offended God–the Father is willing to forgive. The Father’s mercy is to be the measure of his disciples’ mercy.
2. What Is Mercy?: Jesus explained in this Gospel what he expects when he asks for mercy: Stop judging. Stop condemning. Forgive. Too often we compare ourselves to others because we want to justify ourselves. That leads to judging and condemning others. Instead, we should strive to be merciful because everyone is living a difficult life! Mercy requires that we assume everyone is doing their best and, like ourselves, often falling short of their own ideals. By looking at others this way, forgiveness becomes much easier.
3. Generosity Is Essential: Jesus didn’t merely ask us to forgive—he asks for our generosity. We are not in this world merely to seek our own salvation. Jesus asks us to reach out and share our God-given gifts with others. An old saying warns, “No one gets into heaven by themselves—everyone must bring a friend.” Every day, we have opportunities to help others get one small step closer to heaven. And we grow closer to Jesus when we help others to grow closer to him.
Conversing with Christ: Lord, you have asked me to be merciful and have taught me what mercy means. If I want to be merciful as the Father is merciful, I need to love others and help to draw them closer to you. You have given me many gifts and talents which I sometimes use to serve myself—for my own comfort, entertainment, and pleasure. Help me to learn what mercy really is and to use my gifts to help others, as you intended.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will look for opportunities to use my gifts for others– especially my spiritual gifts–so that I will be a sign of your mercy in the world around me.
For Further Reflection: Fruitful Discipleship: Living the Mission of Jesus in the Church and the World by Sherry Weddell discusses what kinds of spiritual gifts we may possess and how to use them for the benefit of others.
Father James Swanson is from Miles City, Montana, joined the Legionaries of Christ in 1983, and currently works in Atlanta, Georgia. He enjoys books, craft beers, and extreme birding.