The following reflection is courtesy of Don Schwager (c) 2015, whose website is located at DailyScripture.net
Do you pray for God’s mercy and pardon for yourself and for those you know who need his mercy? Do you promptly forgive those who wrong you, or do you allow resentment and ill-will to grow in your heart? Daniel was ‘shamefaced’ before God because he recognized that many of God’s people had been unfaithful to God’s commands and to his covenant with them (see Daniel 9:4-10). He acknowledged the sins and failings of his own people, and he pleaded with God for compassion and pardon.
When we are confronted with our own sins and personal failings we experience guilt and shame. This can often either lead us to cast off pride and make-belief or it can lead us to lose our inhibitions and fall into more shameless deeds! If we are utterly honest and humble before God, we will admit our own sins and ask for his mercy and forgiveness. The Lord gives help and strength to those who choose to do what is right and to turn away from whatever would lead them into hurtful and sinful desires. Do you know the joy and freedom of heartfelt repentance, forgiveness, and a clean conscience?
Do not judge
Why does Jesus tell his followers to “not judge lest they be judged”? Jesus knew the human heart all too well. We judge too quickly or unfairly with mixed motives, impure hearts, and prejudiced minds. The heart must be cleansed first in order to discern right judgment with grace and mercy rather than with vengeance.
Ephrem the Syrian (306-373 AD), a wise early Christian teacher and writer, comments on Jesus’ exhortation to not condemn:
Do not judge, that is, unjustly, so that you may not be judged, with regard to injustice. With the judgment that you judge shall you be judged. This is like the phrase “Forgive, and it will be forgiven you.” For once someone has judged in accordance with justice, he should forgive in accordance with grace, so that when he himself is judged in accordance with justice, he may be worthy of forgiveness through grace. Alternatively, it was on account of the judges, those who seek vengeance for themselves, that he said, “Do not condemn.” That is, do not seek vengeance for yourselves. Or, do not judge from appearances and opinion and then condemn, but admonish and advise. (COMMENTARY ON TATIAN’S DIATESSARON 6.18B.)
Grace and mercy
What makes true disciples of Jesus Christ different from those who do not know the Lord Jesus and what makes Christianity distinct from any other religion? It is grace – treating others not as they deserve, but as God wishes them to be treated – with forebearance, mercy, and loving-kindness. God shows his goodness to the unjust as well as to the just. His love embraces saint and sinner alike. God always seeks what is best for each one of us and he teaches us to seek the greatest good of others, even those who hate and abuse us. Our love for others, even those who are ungrateful and unkind towards us, must be marked by the same kindness and mercy which God has shown to us. It is easier to show kindness and mercy when we can expect to benefit from doing so. How much harder when we can expect nothing in return. Our prayer for those who do us ill both breaks the power of revenge and releases the power of love to do good in the face of evil.
How can we possibly love those who cause us grief, harm, or ill-will? With God all things are possible. He gives power and grace to those who trust in his love and who seek his wisdom and help. The Lord is ready to work in and through us by his Holy Spirit, both to purify our minds and hearts and to help us do what is right, good, and loving in all circumstances. Paul the Apostle reminds us that “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us” (Romans 5:5) God’s love conquers all, even our hurts, injuries, fears, and prejudices. Only the cross of Jesus Christ and his victory over sin can free us from the tyranny of malice, hatred, revenge, and resentment, and give us the courage to overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21). Such love and grace has power to heal, restore, and transform us into the image of Christ. Do you know the power of Christ’s redeeming love and mercy?
“Lord Jesus, your love brings freedom, pardon, and joy. Transform my heart with your love that nothing may make me lose my temper, ruffle my peace, take away my joy, or make me bitter towards anyone.”
The following reflection is courtesy of PresentationMinistries.com (c) 2015. Their website is located at PresentationMinistries.com
PERMISSIVENESS AND COMPASSION
“Be compassionate, as your Father is compassionate.” Luke 6:36
Today’s readings speak of an ever-increasing awareness of sin. Sin eventually results in being “brought very low” (Ps 79:8). Nations and people that rebel against God (see Dn 9:9) will eventually reap the harvest of sin, that is, disaster and death (see Rm 6:23). The measure that rebels measure with will eventually be measured right back to them, as Jesus says (Lk 6:38).
In the secular culture, to stand up against sin and immorality is considered an act of “hate.” Yet it is not love to allow (or even encourage) a person to speed headlong toward disaster. The secular culture considers permissiveness a good thing. Holding moral standards is considered intolerance.
The true follower of Jesus can never encourage a lost sheep to wander directly into the danger of sin rather than the loving protection of the Good Shepherd. In this context, permissiveness can be seen as an act of indifference, which is the opposite of compassion. Compassion loves the sinner and hates the sin. Compassion does not judge the motivation of the sinner and does not ignore the effects of sin; rather, compassion embraces the lost sheep and stands ever-ready to rescue that sheep from the consequences of its rebellions.
Disciples of Christ, “be compassionate, as your Father is compassionate” (Lk 6:36).
Prayer: Father, teach me to know the truth and speak it in love and compassion (see Eph 4:15).Promise: “The measure you measure with will be measured back to you.” Lk 6:38 Praise: Jesus healed Esther of terminal cancer. She witnesses of His love to everyone she meets. (This teaching was submitted by a member of our editorial team.)
(For a related teaching, order our tape, Effects of Sin, on audio AV 81-3 or video V-81.)
Rescript: In accord with the Code of Canon Law, I hereby grant my permission to publish One Bread, One Body covering the period from February 1, 2015 through March 31, 2015.
Most Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Auxiliary Bishop, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, August 25, 2014.
The rescript is a declaration that a book or pamphlet is considered to be free of doctrinal or moral error. It is not implied that those who have granted ecclesial permission agree with the contents, opinions, or statements