Homily for Tuesday of the Third Week in Lent
All of our readings for Mass this morning focus on the theme of mercy: recognizing how God has been merciful to us and how we are called to extend that same mercy towards those we encounter. In the first reading from the Book of Daniel, Azariah, who was in the midst of the fiery furnace, prayed to God asking Him to “deal with us in your kindness and great mercy” (3:42). Azariah cried out for God to be merciful to them and, because of that request, God delivered them from the fire.
How many times have we called out for God’s mercy in our lives? How many times have we sought forgiveness from God for the things that we have done? And every time He comes to our hearts and extends that hand of mercy. What does that hand of mercy look like? The ultimate display of mercy: the cross – Jesus offering His very Body in sacrifice for our sins and our mistakes. That is love.
In the Letter to the Romans, St. Paul writes: “But God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.” God offered humanity the greatest gift possible. He offered us His forgiveness. He offered us His Son in reparation for our sins…all the while knowing that we were still going to sin again. And yet, He still extends that hand of mercy and He continues to do so.
We are called to imitate God in that mercy. We are called to extend that same hand of forgiveness to those who have hurt us, who continue to hurt us. Because that is the standard by which each of us are going to be forgiven in the end. There is a line in the Our Father that should scare all of us: “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” That is the standard.
Are we going to be like the servant in today’s Gospel and neglect to show to others the mercy and forgiveness that we have received from God? Or are we going to imitate the sacrifice of Jesus and extend the same hand of mercy that we have received from the Father? Ultimately, the choice is ours to make. And, in the end, we’ll have to answer for how we respond to that invitation. Today, let’s choose mercy and if we have difficulty in doing that, let’s ask the Holy Spirit for the grace to begin the process of forgiveness to those who have hurt us the most.