Twice as Much

Bountiful Compassion

“Be merciful, just as your father is merciful.” Pardon must be bestowed so generously upon anyone who has hurt us, that it runs over and pours into the folds of one’s own garments. We are expected to bestow twice as much love as the other person showed us hate, twice as much trust as the other party manifested suspicion.

This beautiful ideal of compassion can be partly learned, as we meditate upon the example of Jesus who died for us when as, yet we were God’s enemies by our sins (Rom 5:8). Yet, this attitude of overwhelming goodness and understanding can never be fully and adequately learned by study nor be acquired by human effort, no matter how diligent and persevering we may be. We cannot transform ourselves into God, as humanity should have learned at the beginning (Gen 3:5).

To Humble Ourselves

Possessed by this divine spirit of compassion and pardon, we can pray for mercy with the confidence of Daniel in today’s reading. We can admit to God that “we have rebelled and departed from your commandments and laws.” When confessing our sins, we are already within the bond of God’s love and our sins are gone forever, driven out by God’s Holy Spirit already within us.

Daniel admits to being “shamefaced.” Shame can be destructive, or it can be purifying. Sometimes it begets a wholesome humility and honesty. It helps the adult to be again as a child in spirit, in trust, in a wholesome purity. Such an adult trusts, loves and forgives as easily as God himself. “Of such is the kingdom of God.” Forgive and you will be forgiven.” It is certainly not an easy road, which “begins with blaming oneself, it begins from that shame before God and from asking forgiveness from Him: ask forgiveness.” Precisely “from that first step we arrive at what the Lord asks us: to be merciful, to judge no one, to condemn no one, to be generous with others.”

God’s Mercy

From this perspective, Pope Francis prayed in one of his morning meditations that “the Lord, in this Lenten season, gives us the grace to learn to blame ourselves, each in his solitude,” asking ourselves: “Am I capable of doing this? Am I capable of doing this, with this attitude? With this feeling that I have inside, am I capable of doing worse things?” He also invited us to always say this prayer: “Have compassion for me, Lord, help me to feel shame and give me mercy, so that I may be merciful with others.”

[Readings: Dn 9:4b-10; Lk 6:36-38]

Fr. Nnaemeka Paschal Ajuka

Fr. Nnaemeka Paschal Ajuka, PhD., BCC., ACPE Certified Educator Candidate, is a priest of the Catholic Diocese of Umuahia, Nigeria, and a Board-Certified Chaplain with the Association of Professional Chaplains (APC) and National Association of Catholic Chaplains (NACC). He is a retreat preacher who loves his faith. As a sociologist, he cherishes and operates from the vertical and horizontal relationships with God and neighbor. He takes Saint Francis of Assisi’s prayer for peace “Lord make me an Instrument of Peace,” as his ministry mission statement. He is a care provider who meets human needs without discrimination. He has been actively involved in the pastoral ministry in parishes in Nigeria and in the US. Previously, he was an adjunct lecturer at Seat of Wisdom Major Seminary Umuahia and the Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike, Nigeria. Currently, he is a Certified Educator Candidate with the Department of Chaplaincy Services and Education, University of California Health, Davis, Sacramento.

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