Father David's Reflection for Third Tuesday of Lent
The Responsorial Psalm calls us to believe that, whatever our starting point is, God will help us: "Remember your mercies, O Lord" (Psalm 25).
Psalm 25 makes God's mercy very concrete: "Your ways make known to me; teach me your paths; guide me in your truth.." To "have mercy" means to "come to the aid of another out of a sense of relationship." God has mercy on us, not just by "zapping" us unilaterally from on high, but by interacting with us, guiding us, helping us to help ourselves. For Jesus to be our Teacher, we have to become his disciples, his students.
Daniel 3: 25-43 begins with an admission that things aren't as they should be: "For we are reduced, O Lord, beyond any other nation, brought low in the world this day because of our sins. We have in our day no prince, prophet, or leader.." Don't we sometimes feel like saying this about ourselves as a nation, as a Church?
What can give us confidence? Three things: 1. if we come to God with a "contrite heart and a humble spirit"; 2. if we want "to follow unreservedly, with our whole heart"; and 3. if we trust, for "those who trust in you cannot be put to shame."
We must not lower our ideals or give up the goal. The goal is the "perfection of love," total gift of ourselves to God. We hold to this. But we can admit our weakness, acknowledging that we are not yet ready to respond with our whole hearts. It is enough to respond with a "contrite and humble" heart, admitting our sins and hoping one day to do better, even if we are not able to do that completely now. Our trust is not in what we can do or can predict that we will do. Our trust is in what God can do. So we just keep interacting with him in every way we are willing and able to interact with him. And we trust. Our prayer is, "Remember your mercies, O Lord."
Matthew 18: 21-35 teaches us that what we won't do for others we will have a hard time believing God will do for us. If we refuse to forgive without limits, it may seem incomprehensible to us that anybody would, even God. In the story, the first debtor's real sin was not paying attention to the kind of person his master was. He was so focused on his need for money that he did not even notice what his master was doing for him. He didn't get the point.
The focus in our religion (that is, in our lives) should always be on learning what God is like so that we can be like him. If we don't do this we miss the point.
Initiative: Be a disciple. Do what you can do, without assuming you are rejected by God because of what you are not ready to do. Show your belief in his mercy.