22nd MARCH 2022

A Passage To Ponder: Matthew 18:21-35 | ThePreachersWord


TUESDAY, THIRD WEEK OF LENT

 

Dn 3: 25, 34-43;                     Ps 25: 4-9;                  Mt 18: 21-35


  

MISERICORDIAE VULTUS

 

Today’s first reading is a heartfelt prayer offered by Azariah, one of the three young Judeans cast into the blazing fire for their fidelity to God of Israel in their defiance of the order of King Nebuchadnezzar to worship idols. It is a song of lamentation pleading for God’s mercy, accompanied by a humble confession of Israel’s sin and deep repentance.

Each one of us can make this prayer our own because none of us is sinless. “If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” (1 Jn 1:10) Note how Azariah pleads for God’s mercy and forgiveness by referring to his most holy name, to the divine promise made by God to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to God’s holy covenant, his gentleness and mercy, etc. How great is the truth behind these words! God forgives us not because of what we are but because of who he is and what he is! God’s face is mercy! Pope Francis writes, “Mercy is love responding to misery; it is misery calling forth love. An attribute of God, mercy is compassion and love shown towards those who have no claim to expect or receive kindness.”

 

For the people of the old covenant, God himself provided some remote means for reparation for their sins such as holocausts, sacrifices, oblations, incense, offerings of the first fruits, of rams, bullocks and fatted lambs and so on. In Christ the old has passed away. It is the merits of Christ’s blood “which pleads more insistently than Abel’s” that saves us. On our part, it is our contrite soul and humble spirit that matter.

 

Azariah’s sense of guilt is communal. His confession is of the sins of Israel as God’s family. His promise to repent is also communal. Like Azariah, the Church pleads for God’s mercy during Lent. As we move forward with our Lenten observances, may the Holy Spirit lead us to true repentance for our own personal sins and the collective sins of the Church and the world!

 


Response: Remember your compassion, O Lord.


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