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Reflection for March 10, 2007

"You will cast into the depths of the sea all our sins."

Today's Mass Readings

It is during lent that we get to hear the prophecies of some of the minor prophets of the Old Testament. For example, we get to hear from the prophecies of prophet Micah in today’s first reading. He prophesied around the same time as Isaiah. But while Isaiah came from the upper echelons of society, Micah came from rural Judah. As a result, his message is specially connected to the land and the poor who work in it. The book of Micah is a collection of oracles. Some of them are very harsh like Chapter 2: 1. “Woe to those who plan iniquity, and work out evil on their couches…” Other prophecies express the overflowing compassion of God. An example of this is today’s reading:

Who is there like you, the God who removes guilt
and pardons sin for the remnant of his inheritance;
Who does not persist in anger forever,
but delights rather in clemency,
And will again have compassion on us,
treading underfoot our guilt?
You will cast into the depths of the sea all our sins. (Micah 7:18-19)

It is this compassion of God that Jesus manifested in his life. Through the parable of the prodigal son in today's gospel reading, Jesus communicated to the people that God is primarily a God of compassion of love. Even the most serious of sins cannot keep him from loving us. However, God’s love and compassion are not forced upon us. The Father patiently waited for the son to come and say, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I no longer deserve to be called your son; treat me as you would treat one of your hired workers.”

Lent is a time when, one the one hand, we dare to confront our sinfulness. On the other hand, we dare to come to our compassionate God. Let us do so in the words of today's Psalm:

Bless the LORD, O my soul;
and all my being, bless his holy name.
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits.

He pardons all your iniquities,
he heals all your ills.
He redeems your life from destruction,
he crowns you with kindness and compassion.

He will not always chide,
nor does he keep his wrath forever.
Not according to our sins does he deal with us,
nor does he requite us according to our crimes.

For as the heavens are high above the earth,
so surpassing is his kindness toward those who fear him.
As far as the east is from the west,
so far has he put our transgressions from us.
(Psalm 103)