9 March, 2020

We are all sinners but God heals us with an abundance of grace, mercy and tenderness.

~ Pope Francis ~

Daniel 9:4-10; Psalm 79; Luke 6:36-38

We often hear about violent crime; levels of corruption in public life; violence against women; human trafficking; sexual abuse of children. Sin pervades the society each of us is part of. In our own personal lives too, we sin, perhaps not always in such overt or dramatic ways but in ways that echo attitudes of heart that go against God’s goodness. We too “have sinned, have done wrong, have acted wickedly”. But now, as then, God is a God of mercy and compassion.

 

In the Gospel reading today, Jesus asks us to imitate the mercy and generosity of God. When we really recognise our own need of God’s mercy and compassion and allow ourselves to experience it, we come to really know at a deep level, that we are sinners deeply loved by God. There is a joy in that experience of knowing our own brokenness and sinfulness and seeing that we are infinitely loved and can be forgiven. That experience of knowing that we are loved sinners, forgiven and called by God, allows us to become more compassionate. We become more sensitive to the frailty of others and more able to be compassionate and merciful ourselves. The gratitude we feel when we recognise God’s generosity, in the face of our unfaithfulness, automatically seeks to flow out into the way we respond to others.

 

God’s mercy is given generously and unstintingly. God pours it out as a gift. Whenever we are tempted to put limits on God’s mercy we have to remember that God’s nature is to shower us with grace. To place limits on God’s mercy to others or even to ourselves is to sin by not recognising the nature of God’s goodness.

 

You may find it helpful in prayer to recall when you experienced God’s merciful love in the face of your own sinfulness. Allow yourself to re-experience that joy. Ask yourself, as you reflect on your life today, where are the places where I need to experience God’s forgiveness and healing? Who in my life am I called to show mercy and compassion towards at this time?

 

God of infinite compassion and goodness,

 

May we open our hearts to desire and receive your mercy.

 

And may we generously show mercy and compassion to others, as we ourselves have received it from you. Amen.

 

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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