Monday, February 26, 2007

Monday word, 26 Feb 2007

1 Lenten Monday (26 Feb 2007) Lv 19. 1-2,11-18; Ps 19; Mt 25. 31-46
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Deciding For Mercy

Shortly before the middle of his gospel, Matthew reminded the community for which he wrote that Jesus made an earlier prophet’s words programmatic for his own ministry. Hosea had announced nearly 800 years earlier God’s desire: “I desire mercy not sacrifice.” Jesus both revealed and embodied God’s steadfast love.

God’s steadfast love, and our faithful replication of it in our lives, is mercy. God is mercy. In the 19th chapter of Leviticus, of which we heard a portion as our first reading, the Lord’s self-identification appears 15 times. I am the Lord concluded the brief commentaries on the commandments to live well for God and with others. If this were the only commentary we had on the commandments, it would be enough. Enough, that is, if we did not need Jesus to be a living and human commentary on them.

Jesus’ parable of the sheep and goats, near the end of Matthew’s gospel, reminds us that mercy shown others as well as refused others is shown to the Lord or refused him. Our treatment of the Lord eludes us: both the righteous and the unrighteous in the parable ask the same question: Lord, when did we see you in need?

Jesus cast this parable at the end of time, at the final judgment of humans’ lives. It is the sole standard Matthew’s Jesus offers for salvation. However, his parable is immediate and instructive for us now. It not only reminds us of who God is--steadfast, loving kindness; Jesus’ parable reminds us that each day requires us to renew our decision for his kingdom.

Lent is our opportunity to chart a new course in how we choose mercy in our daily living.
Photo by fotofill used under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 license.

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