This past week was the parish Lenten Penance Liturgy. It was an opportunity for us to encounter Jesus, not only in the Sacrament of Confession, but also with His physical presence on the Altar. Like the woman we hear about in the Gospel reading, we too stood before Jesus and hear Jesus’ words, “Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on do not sin any more.”
We are grateful for the opportunity to received God’s mercy when we sin. But how often do we take on the part of the scribes and the Pharisees we also heard about in the Gospel?
In the “Our Father”, which we have recited hundreds if not thousands of times, we pray the words “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Forgive us as we forgive. We have prayed this prayer innumerable times. In Matthew 21:22 we hear “Whatever you ask for in prayer with faith, you will receive.” In John 16:24, “ask and you will receive”. And in Matthew 7:7, it says “Ask and it will be given to you”. So, we have asked, over and over, for God to forgive us as we forgive others. Do you think God has answered our prayer?
Back to the scribes and Pharisees, how are you doing on that whole forgiveness thing? Are you quick to point out the sins of others, and not recognize your own sins? Are you merciful and forgiving when the driver cuts you off on the road? How do you respond to the store clerk that struggles to make change? What is your reaction to a spouse or child that once again, has frustrated you?
Even if we have failed to forgive the way we want to be forgiven, there is hope. In Isaiah we hear “Remember not the events of the past, the things of long ago consider not; see, I am doing something new!” And Paul writes “It is not that I have already taken hold of it or have already attained perfect maturity, but I continue my pursuit in hope that I may possess it”. Continuing to try is the key.
Becoming more aware of our sins is one way to continue to try. Praying the Daily Examen can help. It helps by making us aware of where we were present to God, and when we were not, throughout our day. And as we become more aware of our need for forgiveness, we become more aware of our need to forgive. There are Daily Examen prayer cards in the Narthex and available online at IgnatianSpirituality.com.
And if you missed the Lenten Penance Liturgy, there are more opportunities over the next couple of weeks to seek out God’s mercy in the Sacrament of Confession.