Lenten Reflections 2021: Saturday, March 6, 2021
There is an interesting characteristic of God in today’s first reading, namely that God delights in clemency. It is certainly a challenge for us to grant clemency. When presidents get to the end of their terms there is often a significant number of pardons given, and these are never without controversy. Sometimes the thought of our giving clemency to another can seem impossible. The depth of the harm can be so strong that it is simply seems impossible to give another person clemency. But to delight in clemency? This is the reason God is so far beyond us. His love is so powerful it is more than possible for God to delight in clemency.
Yet the prayer of Micah today emphasizes the rich mercy of God. And it is not a sudden mercy or one that is novel. The prayer of Micah reminds us that God has always been merciful. God hears the cries of the people. God led the people out of Egypt, and despite the sinfulness that is apparent in Micah’s day, God still invites this people to return to him. In fact, while the book of the prophet Micah is not long, it is tender and beautiful. It is precisely the powerful invitation by God for his people to return with all their hearts. It is in the previous chapter of Micah that the task of following God is simplified, yet challenging. “You have been told, O mortal, what is good, and what the LORD requires of you: Only to do justice and to love goodness, and to walk humbly with your God.” How beautiful, yet how difficult!
I do not know if you go to confession regularly, sometimes or if it has been years since you last went to confession. Pope Francis has this wonderful video:
If it has been a while since you have gone to confession, ask God to give you the grace and courage to do so. My students sometimes ask what I am thinking when they confess. The answer is simple. How can I be open to the movement of the Holy Spirit so that the person going to confession receives the mercy of Jesus. For a priest, confession is a profoundly moving sacrament. It is humbling. People who come to confession to not do so based on any merit of mine. Their coming to confession has nothing to do with me as a person, but rather it has everything to do with being a Catholic priest and allowing Christ to work sacramentally, in persona Christi, through me. I am simply the tool of God’s grace.
And for the one receiving the sacrament, it is a grace-filled profound moment. The penitent walks into the confessional a sinner and walks out a saint! The heavy burden of sinfulness is lifted by Jesus and is replaced with the abundant outpouring of God’s mercy. And even more amazing, when God forgives our sin, the sin is no more. I do not mean that God just forgets the sin, as in “forgive and forget”, but rather that God makes the sin nothing, with no existence. It is completely gone! And so today, go to confession. Today, put yourself into the loving mercy of God. You will be so glad you did.