Reading 1 (Dan 9:4b-10)
“Lord, great and awesome God,
you who keep your merciful covenant toward those who love you
and observe your commandments!
We have sinned, been wicked and done evil;
we have rebelled and departed from your commandments and your laws.
We have not obeyed your servants the prophets,
who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes,
our fathers, and all the people of the land.
Justice, O Lord, is on your side;
we are shamefaced even to this day:
we, the men of Judah, the residents of Jerusalem,
and all Israel, near and far,
in all the countries to which you have scattered them
because of their treachery actoward you.
O LORD, we are shamefaced, like our kings, our princes, and our fathers,
for having sinned against you.
But yours, O Lord, our God, are compassion and forgiveness!
Yet we rebelled against you
and paid no heed to your command, O LORD, our God,
to live by the law you gave us through your servants the prophets.”
Gospel (Lk 6:36-38)
Jesus said to his disciples:
“Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
“Stop judging and you will not be judged.
Stop condemning and you will not be condemned.
Forgive and you will be forgiven.
Give and gifts will be given to you;
a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing,
will be poured into your lap.
For the measure with which you measure
will in return be measured out to you.”
Written by: Fr. Anthony Dinh M. Tien, O.P.
I. THEME: Let forgive others as God forgives us.
Many today people lost their conscience of sins; and as a result, they must bear many results of sins for themselves, their family and society. The individual effects can be seen through their anger, jealousy and many kinds of addiction. The familial effects can be recognized through contention, separation and divorce. The social effects are expressed in crimes, poverty, political and economical crises. These results proved that sins cause not only individual effects but also familial and social effects. Therefore, everybody has a duty to do fraternal correction, to educate and to create a healthy environment for all people to grow up therein.
The Catholics have a treasure to safeguard them from these results which is the sacrament of Reconciliation. Many faithful underestimated the value of this sacrament. A frequent examination of conscience helps the individual to recognize one’s bad habits and to correct them on time. All one’s sins are forgiven when he sincerely confesses with the priest. The examine of conscience also helps the individual to recognize the others’ weaknesses and sins because they are also human beings. If one received God’s forgiveness for his sins, he must also forgive others for sins they committed against him. This forgiveness will lead to the reconciliations in one’s family and society.
Today readings help us to recognize the importance of the repentance. In the first reading, the prophet Daniel clearly saw the fact that all the Israelites committed sins against God, and deservedly received all God’s punishments during the Exile. They repeatedly violated God’s law and turned their back to the prophets’ warning whom God continually sent to them. In the Gospel, Jesus taught his disciples to have mercy on others as God is the merciful One. To achieve this teaching, the disciples must recognize God’s mercy on them through His forgiveness of their sins before they can express their mercy on others.
1/ Reading I: Daniel’s confession
During the Exile, God gave the Israelites time and occasion to review their past so that they could understand the reason why they must be suffered and on exile. They are God’s people, and God promises to protect and to bless them if they keep His law which God gave to them through Moses. The prophet Daniel was the one who lived on the Exile, recognized two great sins of the Israelites:
(1) All the Israelites didn’t keep God’s law: The prophet Daniel generally confessed this sin: “We have sinned, been wicked and done evil; we have rebelled and departed from your commandments and your laws.” Other prophets were more specific, they accuses the Israelites of these sins: betrayal by worshipping idols and turning their back to God; hypocrisy; insincerity, injustice, etc.
When one recognized his sins, he also recognized God’s justice. God didn’t violate His covenant, the Israelites tore it when they committed sins. Daniel declared God’s justice as follows: “Ah, Lord, great and awesome God, you who keep your merciful covenant toward those who love you and observe your commandments!…Justice, O Lord, is on your side; we are shamefaced even to this day: the men of Judah, the residents of Jerusalem, and all Israel, near and far, in all the countries to which you have scattered them because of their treachery toward you.”
(2) The Israelites didn’t listen to prophets whom God sent to them: God didn’t punish people the first time when they commit their sins; He patiently sent many prophets to them, both to the Northern and Southern kingdoms, to call them to repentance. Not only they ignored the prophets’ warnings, but also maltreated them. The prophet Daniel confessed this sin: “We have not obeyed your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes, our fathers, and all the people of the land.”
Though all the Israelites committed sin and deservedly received God’s punishments, Daniel still believed that God’s mercy is greater than all the Israelites’ sins: “But yours, O Lord, our God, are compassion and forgiveness!” Daniel strongly believed that if the Israelites repent, God will show His mercy to them.
2/ Gospel: Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
2.1/ A frequent examination of conscience and confession shall help people to have compassion on others: Virtues are good habits, and used to correct sins which are bad habits. To have compassion, people must go through two following steps:
(1) To recognize one’s sins: Examination of one’s conscience is the first step to do to recognize the sins one committed against God and others. Those who don’t frequenly examine their conscience, shall not recognize their sins. As a result, they consider themselves as good persons and easily criticize and condemn others. Those who frequently examine their conscience easily recognize their sins, they want to confess their sins to receive God’s forgiveness. This examination also helps them to correct their bad habits on time because “whoever frequently examine their conscience shall have less sins.” Bad habits shall be very difficult to break after a long time, but easy to wipe out for the first few times.
(2) To recognize others’ weaknesses: The examination of conscience helps not only the individual progress, but also the familial and social improvement. The examination of conscience helps people to recognize their weaknesses. None is perfect, since “a holy one felt seven times a day.” If they have their own weaknesses, they can’t expect others to be perfect because none can achieve it. This recognition helps people to be compassionate and to easily forgive others’ sins. If God, out of mercy, forgave our many sins, we shall have no reason to hold back people’s sins, sometimes they are too little comparing to our sins. Jesus warned us of this: “Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven.”
2.2/ To be generous with all people: The origin of compassion and mercy is from God. He loves and forgives when people are still sinners; He doesn’t require any condition before He forgives save repentance. Therefore, when people received God’s mercy, people must, in turn, have mercy on others. Don’t require any condition from others and don’t forgive half-way. Jesus taught his disciples about the rewards of generosity: “Give and gifts will be given to you; a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap. For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you.”
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– To recognize we are sinners helps us two things: we need God’s forgiveness and we must forgive others. In opposition, if we don’t recognize we are sinners, we are easily considered ourselves perfect. This shall lead to many sins: pride, insult, criticizing, condemning, and unable to forgive.
– If we said we have no sin, we made God a liar, and Jesus’ sacred blood shall have no effect on us.
– The sacrament of Reconciliation can’t be lacked for the individual progress and familial happiness. The family who frequently receives this sacrament together shall easily solve their conflictions in their family.