Have you ever had one of those days, one that, from the beginning, it’s one thing after another that you forget to bring or do, and you just want to hit the reset button and begin again? I had one of those days yesterday that I’m blaming on the change of clocks. But in reality, there’s always more to it.
In today’s first reading from Daniel, it is more than just a bad start to the day. We hear how Azariah “stands up in the fire” and pleads to God to give his people another chance. He cites God’s covenant with the people and cries out for God’s mercy.
We do not hear in this passage what the people have specifically done, but there is mention that because of their sins, they are “… reduced … beyond any other nation, brought low everywhere in the world …”
And, further, because of their sins, they are lacking a prince, prophet, or leader. They lack burnt offerings, sacrifice oblation, incense, and a place to offer God the first fruits to find favor with Him.
These were all the standard means to order their lives on earth and with God. Azariah realizes there must be another way to restore their relationship with God and to live as God intends.
And, so, he brings an offering to God: a contrite heart, and a humble spirit. An offer of themselves as the sacrifice to follow God unreservedly, with their whole hearts, fearing and praying to God.
Yesterday, Father Boby preached about having the courage to be, sometimes, the sole voice of reason—the one who stands for Jesus’ gospel message. We can only do that when we are in union with God, without reservation, with our whole hearts, humbly trusting in the will and teaching of God.
The good news is that God has offered each of us countless resets in our lives, chances to begin again. Each time we go to Confession, humbly and with a solid commitment to amend our lives, we receive not just another chance, but the grace of God to live up to reflecting God’s glory in what we say and do.
One way we can reflect God’s glory is to be willing to grant mercy to others. Peter asks Jesus to quantify, to give him a number of how many times we are to be merciful. The answer, as explained in the parable, is both simple and challenging.
We are to be merciful and forgive others as God does for us. Having been on this planet for over 58 years, I can only imagine how many times God has hit the reset button for me, how many times I have been forgiven in Confession for mortal sins, and even more times through my Act of Contrition with venial sins. That math adds up to me needing to be willing to forgive at least that many times.
The gospel ends with Jesus saying that we need to forgive each other and do it from the heart, or, as we’d say in my family, to really mean it.
My brothers and sisters, today, may we offer to God our hearts, words, and actions, being willing to be as merciful to others as He is to us.
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