Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Tuesday of the Third Lent in Lent

(Daniel 3:25.34-43; Matthew 18:21-35)

When former president Gerald Ford died in 2007, commentators remembered him with surprising admiration.  They recognized his pardoning his predecessor Richard Nixon for criminal activity in the Watergate affair as his greatest achievement.  Even Ted Kennedy, a Nixon critic, admitted that the pardon did a distinctive service to the country.  It helped heal a nation badly divided over ideology and shocked over wrongdoing at the highest levels.

Would that public figures be more willing to practice today what they admire in past heroes!  Instead we hear them demand resignation, impeachment, or apology from those who violate their principles.  In the gospel Jesus tells his disciples that it should not be that way with us.  We must be ready to forgive when people repent of their misdeeds.  Rather than clamor for retribution, we should pray that our offenders take note of their wrongdoing, ask forgiveness, and make proper amends.

Mercy becomes us.  Shakespeare writes that an “earthly power doth then show likest God's,
when mercy seasons justice.”
  It even makes us better appreciated in our society as in the case of President Ford.  In forgiving, of course, we must not abandon the norms of justice.  Compensation to the wronged is often due, and the offender should be resolved not to offend again.  But practiced rightly, mercy like “the gentle rain from heaven” – as Shakespeare put it -- benefits everyone.