Monday of the Second Week in Lent
(Daniel 9:4b-10; Luke 6:36-38)
Saint Theresa of Avila, the sixteenth century mystic, reformer of the Carmelite Order and author of several books, was an overachiever if there ever was one. Yet far from relying on her accomplishments as a calling card in heaven, she said that when she arrived at judgment she would throw herself at the feet of the Most High and beg for mercy. As both Scripture readings attest today, God is indulgent. Mercy is His most prominent pose toward His people.
Daniel recognizes that his compatriots have sinned and stand in need of God’s mercy. Jesus exhorts his followers that they must show mercy because it epitomizes the love of God, the Father. This means that they are to be understanding of others’ faults and generous in forgiving them. Shakespeare sums up Jesus’ instruction on mercy well, “…earthly power doth then show likest God’s when mercy tempers justice.”
We have difficulty showing mercy to others because we feel unsure of God’s love. For whatever reason, we sense that as we are no one can really love us. To compensate for this inadequacy we prefer to be cruel, dismissive or sarcastic to others rather than compassionate. But God’s love is the core principle of the Judeo-Christian tradition, and mercy toward others is a primary way to respond to this gracious initiative.