5 March, 2020

I thank you for your faithfulness and love, which excel all we ever knew of you.

~ Psalm 138 ~

Esther 14:1,3-4,11,13-14; Psalm 138; Matthew 7:7-12

The Psalm we read at Mass today is phrased in a very curious way. God’s faithfulness and love excel all we ever knew of him. This means that the love and faithfulness that the psalmist has experienced from God surprised the psalmist. God’s faithfulness and love proved to be more than he or she ever thought they knew of him. God’s love can be surprising! The invitation for all of us is to experience God’s love and faithfulness anew.


Discovering the love and mercy of God in our spiritual lives can be a profound and life-changing experience. To know that God loves the world and shows the world mercy is one thing. To know that God loves me… and shows me mercy, with all of my faults and failings and bad choices in my life… is another. The world is suddenly different and my life is not the same.


In the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius, this experience of God’s love is the bedrock upon which a Christian life is built. Everything that the Christian does is in response to this experience. The energy to love and to reach out to others is gathered from the experience of first being loved by God. The energy to suffer the daily tasks and trials comes from a lived relationship with Christ who died for me. The trust to surrender all to God at the end of the day rests upon the knowledge that God is there for me, even when I fail him.


The knowledge that God deeply loves us, in spite of our sins and failings, has the power to surprise us. It means that even when we think we know that God loves us, his love and mercy could excel all that we ever knew of him. Can we open our hearts a little more to God this Lent than we have done previously in our lives? Is it possible that if we should do this, God will draw us ever closer to him, embracing and healing dry and lifeless areas in our souls we never even knew we had?


Loving Father,


Give me the grace today to be surprised by your love and your grace!


Give me a renewed experience of your love, and the opportunity to spread that love to others.




Catholic Parliamentary

Liaison Office

Jesuit Institute
South Africa

This reflection has been adapted from Have Mercy, O Lord! Daily Reflections for Lent by Grant Tungay SJ, Russell Pollitt SJ, Annemarie Paulin-Campbell, Puleng Matsaneng, Anthony Egan SJ and Frances Correia, & published by the Jesuit Institute South Africa in 2016.

Reflection prepared by

Fr Matthew Charlesworth SJ

Fr Matthew Charlesworth SJ entered the Society of Jesus in 2005 and underwent the usual course of studies in his formation, which took him to such varied places as Canada, France, Ireland, Kenya, Spain, Tanzania, the United Kingdom, the United States, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and South Africa. Whilst working at the Institute, Matthew managed the background technical aspects of much of the Institute's work and was involved in the Spirituality work, completing the Advanced Spiritual Directors Training Course and the Spiritual Exercises Training run by the Institute. He is a member of Spiritual Directors International and was also a part-time lecturer in Sacred Scripture at St Augustine College of South Africa. He is currently the Director of Communications for the Jesuits in Southern Africa, based in Lusaka, Zambia.

m.charlesworth@jesuitinstitute.org.za @mcharlesworth
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