Be merciful to us, Lord

March 21, 2020 – Saturday 3rd Week of Lent

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Being judged because of what you have done before, or of a mistake, or failure or sin that you have committed is a devastating experience. This becomes  overwhelming too especially when we are “put in a box,” that, as if there is nothing more in us except our sins and failures.

Aside from being judged by others, each of us too can be the one who judged others because of their mistakes and failures in life. We could have played to be the righteous individuals who scrutinize people searching for their faults. We could be that mean person whose main intention is to bring other people down by shaming and gossiping their weaknesses in order to hide our own sins. This happens among our families, circle of friends and even in our workplaces.

The Gospel story that we have heard today conveys this message to us. To become self-righteous only blinds us. Thinking highly too much of ourselves will even prevent us from asking God to show his mercy upon us because we already think that we do not need God’s mercy. The righteous person actually thought of himself so highly that God is as if obliged to be good to him. In his thoughts, God has to pay him for being good and righteous. 

What happens here is a reversal of relationship. God is as if the servant of this righteous person. Although he might be after of rewards in his life for being righteous, yet, he was actually seeking to control God through his righteousness. Thus, this attitude leads us to build invisible walls that separate us from others.

We might still have that idea of condemning our brothers and sisters who were considered terrible sinners. We too might have that attitude of separating those people whom we consider as unclean for fear of being contaminated and be associated with them.

Thus, Jesus invites us now to rather look closely at ourselves and to examine better our intentions, our thoughts and actions so that it may also lead us to that recognition of our failures and sins. This realization will hopefully lead us to also join the tax collector in praying, “O God, be merciful to me, a sinner.” 

We are invited to be more understanding of those who failed but not in the sense of condoning such failures and sins. We are invited to be merciful rather than to be condemning.

Let us remind ourselves that to both the righteous and the sinners, God does not condemn but God rather desires healing, reconciliation and fullness of life for all.

This calls us, then, to see more in the person of our brothers and sisters, to stop our harsh judgments and condemnations, to stop our gossiping and image shaming that only destroy the image of our brother or sister.

What is its invitation now for us as we face such difficult situation amidst this deadly Covid-19. Even during this challenging times, we are called to show compassion and generosity to our brothers and sisters, particularly those who are most in need. And since we are called to “stay home” as a form of prevention of the spread of the virus, let us also not spread malicious gossips about our neighbors or friends. To stay at home is also an invitation for us to pray for each other and to show our true concern for one another. Hinaut pa.

Jom Baring, CSsR

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