Mar 14, 2022: Monday of the Second Week of Lent

1st Reading – Daniel 9:4b-10

“Lord, great and awesome God,
you who keep your merciful covenant toward those who love you
and observe your commandments!
We have sinned, been wicked and done evil;
we have rebelled and departed from your commandments and your laws.
We have not obeyed your servants the prophets,
who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes,
our fathers, and all the people of the land.
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.
O LORD, we are shamefaced, like our kings, our princes, and our fathers,
for having sinned against you.
But yours, O Lord, our God, are compassion and forgiveness!
Yet we rebelled against you
and paid no heed to your command, O LORD, our God,
to live by the law you gave us through your servants the prophets.”

Although the book of Daniel tells us virtually all that we know about the prophet of the same name, the author is unknown.

Daniel was a prophet to the Israelites in the midst of their Babylonian exile. He had four apocalyptic visions which are described in chapters 7 through 12. In the midst of these visions, we find a remarkable penitential prayer on the lips of Daniel, from which we read the first part today.

“Lord, great and awesome God, you who keep your merciful covenant toward those who love you and observe your commandments!

Daniel’s prayer begins with a humble and reverent address to God. God is extolled for his faithfulness to his covenant.

We have sinned, been wicked and done evil; we have rebelled and departed from your commandments and your laws. 

Daniel confesses the sins of the people, in solidarity with them.

We have not obeyed your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes, our fathers, and all the people of the land.

Not only were they sinful, but they also ignored the warnings God had given them via the prophets.

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. O LORD, we are shamefaced, like our kings, our princes, and our fathers, for having sinned against you.

Daniel acknowledges that God has acted justly in punishing the people by driving them out of the promised land. Notice that all Israel has sinned, not just a select few. Their national sins have been the cause of their sufferings.

But yours, O Lord, our God, are compassion and forgiveness! Yet we rebelled against you and paid no heed to your command, O LORD, our God, to live by the law you gave us through your servants the prophets.”

After acknowledging the sinfulness of the people and the justice in God’s punishment, Daniel takes comfort in the fact that God is also forgiving and merciful.

Psalm 79: 8,9,11,13

R. Lord, do not deal with us according to our sins.

In our responsorial psalm, the people make an anguished entreaty to God for help from within a time of great tribulation.

Remember not against us the iniquities of the past; may your compassion quickly come to us, for we are brought very low.

The psalmist acknowledges that the evils that have befallen them are due to God’s anger at their sins, both their own sins and those of their forebears.

Help us, O God our savior, because of the glory of your name; deliver us and pardon our sins for your name’s sake. Let the prisoners’ sighing come before you; with your great power free those doomed to death. 

The psalmist appeals to God’s fidelity to his love as manifested in the Covenant.

Then we, your people and the sheep of your pasture, will give thanks to you forever; through all generations we will declare your praise.

Despite all their misfortunes, the people do not feel abandoned by God; they continue to be his flock.

Gospel – Luke 6:36-38

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
Stop judging and you will not be judged.
Stop condemning and you will not be condemned.
Forgive and you will be forgiven.
Give, and gifts will be given to you;
a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing,
will be poured into your lap.
For the measure with which you measure
will in return be measured out to you.”

Today’s gospel reading from the Sermon on the Plain, which corresponds to the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew’s Gospel (chapters 5-7).

It is very likely that in the course of his public ministry, Jesus preached the same thing in different regions and towns of Israel, using different wording on different occasions.

Jesus said to his disciples: Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

The primary focus of this passage is an instruction to love (agápē).

The disciples are called to be merciful (oiktírmōn) as God is merciful. The word is closely related to the Hebrew word rahûm, which means “compassionate,” the attitude of loving attachment a mother has for the child in her womb.

Characterizing God in this way radically reinterprets the Jewish perspective of God’s fatherhood.

“Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven. Give and gifts will be given to you;

The way the disciples treat others will be the standard for the way they are treated by God. If they do not judge or condemn, they will not be judged or condemned. If they forgive and are generous, they will be forgiven and receive generously.

a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap. For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you.”

The extent of God’s beneficence is illustrated through an image of measuring grain. While we may be extravagant in our loving, the goodness of God far exceeds even the greatest human generosity.

However much we give God in this life, he will give us more — if not here on earth, than in life eternal.

We see this play out in Sacred Scripture; for example, when the widow of Zarephath gave food to Elijah even though she had very little left. Her generosity was rewarded by a constantly renewed supply of flour and oil.

God’s gratuitous, overflowing love is what enables us to live out Christ’s seemingly impossible command to agapē love.

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