Monday of the Second Week in Lent
(Daniel 9:4b-10; Luke 6:36-38)
Singer George M. Cohan once starred in a Broadway play, “I’d rather be right (than be President).” Like Cohan’s character, many people are so determined to be right that they have great difficulty admitting their mistakes when they indeed err. It has been said that the capacity to admit error marked a decided difference in personality between Albert Einstein and Sigmund Freud. Einstein evidently remarked that if his theory of relativity were proved wrong, he would investigate why and try to formulate another theory. Freud, on the other hand, apparently dismissed the possibility that his theory of psychoanalysis might be in error.
As humans striving to transcend our limitations, it is critical that we admit our mistakes. God calls us to holiness which means that we root out sin by relentless self-examination and correction. In any pursuit of excellence the going is hard at first but gets easier with practice. If we regularly exam our consciences and come to confession, we should find the seriousness and frequency of our sins diminishing. On the other hand, if we stubbornly refuse to search for sin in our lives, we are likely to miss even the faults that are apparent to those who know us.
The first reading today demonstrates true repentance. The prophet Daniel is pleading to God on behalf of all the people in Babylonian exile. He acknowledges the people’s collective sin and petitions their forgiveness. There should be no doubt of obtaining God’s mercy when such a forthright confession is made.