Psalm 79:8, 9, 11 and 13
The passage from the Book of Daniel is a heartfelt recognition of having sinned and done evil. Before his confession, Daniel first acknowledges God’s faithful and merciful love. In spite of Israel’s unfaithfulness, God is faithful to the covenants he made with Abraham, Moses and David. God is just since he gives to each their due; God is compassionate toward those who suffer; God forgives those who turn to him with a sincere heart.
The Psalmist pleads that God not deal with us according to our sin, but according to his mercy. By breaking the covenant we brought upon ourselves the curse of the covenant; by our sin we merited death. God, though, created us to share in his eternal glory. The Psalmist knows this and asks God for help: “Help us, O God our savior, because of the glory of your name”. We need to be purified, because sin prevents us from sharing in the glory of knowing and loving God.
If the path of sin is one of rebellion against God and disregard for the law that he has given us through the prophets, then the path to life is one of obedience to God and his Law. The Old Law has been purified and brought to fulfillment by Jesus; this is the New Law we find in the passage from Luke’s Gospel. In Saturday’s Gospel (Matthew), we encountered the exhortation to holiness and perfection: “Be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect”. In today’s Gospel (Luke), the exhortation is to mercy: “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful”. Mercy is a generous response to something imperfect and defective.
In his goodness, God created us; in his justice, he endowed us with our natural abilities; in his generosity, God called us to share his divine life; and in his mercy, God purifies us when we have failed and restores us to divine sonship. Imitating God’s mercy means dealing with our brothers and sisters in such a way that we seek to bring them back to God and leave judgment to God. “Judge not and you will not be judged”; “Stop condemning and you will not be condemned”. The one who is merciful forgives and is generous in giving good gifts.
If we turn to God, he will purify us in mercy and bestow on us the gifts of the Holy Spirit: fear of the Lord, piety, fortitude, knowledge, understanding, counsel, and wisdom. These gifts enable us to discern God’s will more clearly and act in accord with God’s knowledge and love; they place us into contact with God’s action in our lives and enable us to be merciful with our brothers and sisters.
Readers may contact Father Jason Mitchell at [email protected].