A Plea for Mercy

Monday of the Second Week in Lent

March 9, 2020

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bruggemann

Today, in Mercy, our reading from Daniel gives us one of the Great Prayers of the Old Testament (according to Walter Brueggemann’s like-named book.)

The Book of Daniel and chapter nine in particular, have been the subjects of extensive biblical exegesis. Chapter nine in considered one of the Messianic Prophecies, Old Testament markers pointing to Christ. So there is much we could study about today’s first reading.

 


But how might we pray with it?

Naming the sins of all the People, Daniel’s great prayer is a plea for mercy:

Lord, great and awesome God,
you who keep your merciful covenant
toward those who love you
and observe your commandments! …
… yours, O Lord, our God,
are compassion and forgiveness!

Three themes, so strikingly germane to Lent, arise from Daniel’s prayer:

Repentance
Forgiveness
Transformation


Our Responsorial Psalm picks up this plea to Mercy for Mercy:

Remember not against us the iniquities of the past;
may your compassion quickly come to us,
for we are brought very low.
R.    Lord, do not deal with us according to our sins.
Help us, O God our savior,

because of the glory of your name;
Deliver us and pardon our sins
for your name’s sake.


The questions for each of us as we pray today —

Is there someplace in my life
longing for such mercy and healing?

Where can my spirit grow
from repentance, forgiveness, and transformation?

be Mercy

In our Gospel Jesus tells us how to open our hearts to this merciful healing.

Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
Stop judging and you will not be judged.
Stop condemning and you will not be condemned.
Forgive and you will be forgiven.
Give and gifts will be given to you;
a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing,
will be poured into your lap.
For the measure with which you measure
will in return be measured out to you.”

There it is in black and white. Whether or not the advice changes my heart is up to me!

Music: Kyrie Eleison (Lord, have mercy) Beethoven- Missa Solemnis

Don’t Sleepwalk Your Life!

Monday of the Thirty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time

November 25, 2019

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Today, in Mercy, we begin a series of readings from the Book of Daniel. It is the only time throughout the Liturgical Year that we get a good dose of Daniel. And it is well placed, coming in this final week before Advent.

Daniel is apocalyptic literature, a genre which conveys the author’s perception of the end times through dreams, visions and prophecies. Like many of our readings of the past weeks, Daniel focuses us on God’s Final Coming into time by interpreting current circumstances in a spiritual light.

Today’s Gospel does the same thing, but in a little different way. 

Jesus tells the story of the poor widow who gave everything she had for the sake of the poor. This widow, in a sense, already lives in the “end times”, a time when our only “possessions” will be the good we have done in our lives.

Both these readings set us up to reflect on our lives and times as we approach Advent. This sacred season is the annual reenactment of Christ’s First Coming in order to prepare us for:

  • Christ’s daily revelation in our lives
  • Christ’s Final Coming at the end of time

Mt24_awake

All of Daniel’s complex visions and prophecies can feel a little confusing, but we can focus on this:

  • God is continually revealing Godself in the ordinary circumstances of time.
  • We can open ourselves to this revelation by our humble prayer and good works.
  • Staying awake like this in our hearts and souls will allow us to pass seamlessly into God’s Presence when the end times come.

Music: Be Thou My Vision

To See As God Sees

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

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Today, in Mercy, our readings describe God’s lavish mercy and the expectation for our reciprocity.

love one another

The passage from the Book of Daniel, written in lilting prose, quotes the prayer of Azariah. It gives us several phrases to savor in our own prayer, depending on the particular disposition of our heart on any given day:

To whom you promised …. like the stars of heaven, or the sand on the shore of the sea.
What has God promised you to give you hope in your life? Can you call on those promises today in your prayer?

For we are reduced, O Lord, beyond any other nation…
Are you feeling sad, disconnected, humiliated or depressed? Can you give these feelings to God and open your heart to healing?

We have in our day no prince, prophet, or leader,
no burnt offering, sacrifice, oblation, or incense,
no place to offer first fruits, to find favor with you.
Do you ever feel abandoned by the institutions we all once depended on, whether Church, government, law etc.? Can we pray for the courage to depend only on God in all things?

Now we follow you with our whole heart…
Have our life circumstances brought us to the point of placing ourselves totally in God’s care? Can we pray with that peaceful and holy abandonment?

Deliver us by your wonders, and bring glory to your name, O Lord.Can our prayer be one of giving glory to God for all the blessings in our lives?

God has been so good to us! Our Gospel enjoins us to be reciprocally good to others.

Music: Give Me Your Eyes – An interesting song by rock singer Brian Heath. As his plane is landing one night, he receives a grace to pray for new eyes — eyes that see and love  all humanity as God does.