Homily for March 21, Monday of the II week in Lent
As we all know, an important part of Lent is recognizing our own sins and our need for redemption. It can be a hard thing to do; we naturally tend to make excuses for ourselves. Sometimes we try to tone down the seriousness of our sins when we think about them, and we can even be a bit presumptuous regarding God’s pardon, by not really repenting. Other times, we can tend in the opposite direction; we become disappointed in ourselves and discouraged, and blow our sin out of proportion, even to the point of doubting if God can ever forgive us.
The first reading today is a good example of honesty and objectivity. The prophet Daniel states the facts of the case against the people of Israel in a matter-of-fact tone, granting that God is in the right and Israel has sinned and is ashamed. At the same time, he shows hope and trust in the compassion and forgiveness of God. The Psalm continues in the same vein of humble recognition of sinfulness and trust in God’s compassionate love.
We all know that God does, in fact, want to forgive us. However, we also know that Jesus puts a condition on the divine willingness to pardon: we must also be compassionate and forgiving. He gave us the same message when He taught us to pray, “forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” The Lord explains that phrase a bit in today’s Gospel reading, explaining it in other words: “the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you”. If we forgive other people and do not judge them, but on the contrary are kind and generous with others, God will do the same for us.
This is an idea that is repeated in different ways throughout the New Testament: our relationship with God is made real and manifest through our relationships with other people. We should love others as if they were Christ, and also treat them as we want God to treat us.
Through our constancy and generosity in living Lent to the full, may God help us to grow in humility to recognize our sins as they are – no more no less – and to ask Him sincerely and trustingly for forgiveness. And with sincere love for God, may we truly show to others the compassion and generosity that we all would wish for ourselves.