Intention: For God’s blessing on this week’s gathering of Lasallian Secondary School Chief Administrators.
Today’s Gospel | Matthew 16:13-19
When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter said in reply, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus said to him in reply, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
During the Sunday Angelus one day in Saint Peter’s square, Pope Francis asked, “Have you thought about God’s patience, the patience He has with each one of us? That is His mercy. He always has patience, patience with us, He understands us, He waits for us…”
Mercy in today’s world is often viewed as clemency, as letting people off the hook. What Pope Francis’ nuanced perspective suggests is that authentic mercy goes beyond mere acts of clemency and straight into the challenge of unconditional love. In this view, to be merciful is to cooperate with the heart of God as it seeks to affirm and bless his creation. It is an act of acceptance that acknowledges that people should not be judged for their disappointments and their mistakes, because it is the light of God’s goodness within them that truly defines them and reveals their best and truest selves. In his wisdom, God sees that all of us deserve patience because all of us need and are worth the wait.
And so, as we reflect during this Lent on how to overcome our imperfections and foibles, we might also reflect on how many times others have chosen to be patient with and to wait for us. How many times have people graciously lived with our flaws, not because flaws do not matter, but because we are lovable in spite of them? For it is not alone, but with Gods’ grace in the form of each others’ mercy, that we are able to change, to make our way back to one another and then, together, put our lives right. Lent is not just a good time to repent. It is also a good time to remember God’s mercy, and to give thanks for all those who have ever been willing to wait for us.
Eternal Father, you have given each of us gifts that are uniquely ours, but so often we fail to value the gifts in others. We judge other’s gifts as threatening or as less important than our own. In this time of Lent, fill us with the compassion that we need to embrace each other with understanding and welcoming arms. Help us to remember that you are using all of us to bring your peace and mercy to the world. We ask this of you who lives and reigns with your Son and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen.