Homilette for Monday, March 9, 2009

Monday of the Second Week in Lent

(Luke 6:36-38)

Three years ago a gunman entered an Amish school near Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and took a number of young girls as hostages. He bound them with plastic ties and half an hour later murdered five of them. He then took his own life.

The violence, of course, disturbed the whole country. But much more remarkable was what happened afterwards. The Amish community, true to their arduous compliance with Scripture, extended forgiveness to the family of the assassin. The widow of the murderer, deeply touched by the community’s charity, later wrote them in open letter, "Your love for our family has helped to provide the healing we so desperately need.”

In the gospel today Jesus calls us to be merciful. It has been pointed out that where in the Gospel of Matthew Jesus calls his disciples to be perfect, Luke shows him emphasizing mercy as if mercy is the perfection of God. When we are called upon to forgive a really serious offense, it certainly seems like a monumental task. As the poet Alexander Pope put it, “To err is human; to forgive divine.”