Monday, March 21, 2011

Monday of the Second Week in Lent

(Daniel 9:4b-10; Luke 6:36-38)

In Clint Eastwood’s award-winning picture Unforgiven, a corrupt sheriff is meted out severe retribution by an almost ruthless bounty hunter. The sheriff’s dying words are a pathetic, “I didn’t deserve to die like this.” How did he deserve to die after tolerating murder in his jurisdiction? His lament stands in contrast to Daniel’s in the first reading today.

Daniel does not dodge communal blame for the Israelite exile. He recognizes that his people did sin against God by ignoring the prophets’ warnings. They did not obey God’s laws, especially the injunction against idolatry in the first commandment, “I am the Lord, your God; you shall not have other gods besides me.”

The self-criticism of Daniel gives the gospel passage a different twist. We are accustomed to hearing this gospel as a simple exhortation to be generous in our dealings with other. Juxtaposed with the passage from Daniel, we should understand Jesus as telling us not to consider whether we are treated fairly or not – “stop judging…” – by others or even by God. Rather we are to acknowledge that we are guilty of sin, that God has forgiven us, and that His mercy is full reason for us to treat others kindly.