Monday, March 17, 2014

Reflection for Monday, March 17, 2014

MONDAY OF THE SECOND WEEK IN LENT

DAN 9:4B-10
PS 79:8, 9, 11 AND 13
LK 6:36-38

Confession and penitence; pleas for forgiveness and deliverance; offerings of praise and thanksgiving; a discipleship manual for judging others - with mercy, humility, and generosity.

Today’s readings suggest a road-map to prepare the way for the Lord in our lives this Lenten season. They also remind us of something we know perhaps all too well: right relationship is difficult.

The readings begin with a confession from a penitent Daniel:

We have sinned, been wicked and done evil... 
Justice, O Lord, is on your side; 
we are shamefaced even to this day: 
we, the men of Judah, the residents of Jerusalem, 
and all Israel, near and far, 
in all the countries to which you have scattered them 
because of their treachery toward you. 

The Psalm that follows issues pleas for forgiveness and deliverance, and offerings of praise and thanksgiving:

Lord, do not deal with us according to our sins 
may your compassion quickly come to us... 
Deliver us and pardon our sins... 
Then we, your people and the sheep of your pasture, 
will give thanks to you forever; 
through all generations we will declare your praise. 

In the Gospel lesson, Jesus shares a discipleship manual for judging others - with mercy, humility, and generosity:

Jesus said to his disciples: 
Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. 
Stop judging and you will not be judged... 
Forgive and you will be forgiven. 
Give and gifts will be given to you... 

What kind of relationship do we have with God?

Do we have an exchange relationship with God - regularly serving up deals to our Master, offering up “this” from ourselves in exchange for “that” from Him? I suspect that all too often we fall into this sort of relationship with God. It seems to me though that right relationship with God entails neither deal-making nor exchange.

Daniel seems to suggest that God punished the Jews in exchange for their iniquities - leaving them ashamed and in desolation. The God that I know though doesn’t mete out punishment in exchange for sin. Butif I understand that Christ resides in me, then it comes as no surprise that when I sin against God I feel ashamed and desolated, as the Jews did. For when I sin against God I sin against a part of myself. Such is the true nature of my relationship with God.

The Psalmist seems to offer God a deal - praise and thanksgiving, in exchange for forgiveness and deliverance. The God that I know though doesn’t accept deals, and I imagine is sorely unimpressed with offerings of praise and thanksgiving. But if I understand that Christ resides in me, then surely I will be moved to give God the same praise and thanksgiving offered by the Psalmist. For the joy of the gospel message of forgiveness and deliverance must surely fill my heart. Such is the true nature of my relationship with God.

Even Jesus seems to offer an exchange - a deal from God. Don’t judge, and in exchange you won’t be judged. Give, and in exchange you will receive. The God that I know though doesn’t offer deals. But if I understand that Christ resides in me, then when I follow Jesus’ instructions and judge others with mercy, humility, and generosity, surely I will experience a part of Christ’s own perfect mercy, humility, and generosity. For when I do so, Christ becomes resurrected in me. Such is the true nature of my relationship with God.

This Lenten season, I pray that we might prepare the way for the Lord in our lives, through confession and penitence; pleas for forgiveness and deliverance; offerings of praise and thanksgiving; and as disciples of Christ who judge others with mercy, humility, and generosity. In so doing, I pray that we might discover the Christ that is resurrected within each of us when we enter into right relationship with God.

Bonnie Wilson is Associate Professor of Economics in the John Cook School of Business.

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