The first reading from the book of the prophet Daniel isn’t very happy, positive or peaceful today. It seems like a lot of time, we expect ourselves and other people to focus on the positive and ignore the negative things in our lives, or that we can not be a good Christian if we experience a lot of negative feelings. Sin causes a lot of negative feelings though, and actually does a great deal more harm when we do not face it honestly and address it. We can pretend that what we did wasn’t technically a mortal sin. (There was extenuating circumstances, you know.) Sometimes we come up with every excuse in the book rather than face our sins and experience the shame that comes with it.
However, the scripture passage from the book of Daniel today, addresses the failures and sins of the people honestly and openly. Yes, it is full of negativity, but there is no true peace, no true healing without dealing with the ugly truth first. The sacrament of confession is where we face the truth about ourselves, honestly, and give it to the Lord to heal, because we sure can’t do that ourselves. Jesus is the only one who can heal us.
The gospel today has very short, but very powerful words. These are some of the most simple, yet difficult to live by words in the bible. Jesus tells us quite plainly to stop judging, so we will not be judged. But how many of us continue to do this? This Lent is a good time to work on not judging others. Actually the entire gospel reading today would be an excellent focus to work on for the rest of Lent. Be merciful (compassionate). Stop judging. Stop condemning. Forgive. Give to others. Simple words, but we complicate them greatly, to avoid living out these words of the gospel in our lives.
What a gift it is to forgive an offense another person committed against us. Forgiveness frees the person who forgives, while holding onto grudges imprisons a person in perpetual negativity, like a cancer that eats at your soul. Even some of the most devout Catholics fall prey to this spiritual trap. The Our Father Prayer we say at church can become, just words that we recite in order to feel at peace with one another at mass, if we aren’t careful. But, forgiveness also heals the person who committed the offense if they are genuinely sorry. It is such a gift to come in contact with someone you hurt, but regretted it, and they seem to have forgotten the whole thing. Talk about being set free and given a fresh start! This is Christianity at it’s finest. The truth will set you free, but so will forgiveness.
Daily Mass Readings:
Daniel 9:4-10 / Psalm 79:8-9,11,13 / Luke 6:36-38