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Lectionary 231: Be Compassionate Luke 6:36

February 28, 2015

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Lectionary 231.  Scripture: March 2.  Daniel 9:4-10.  Psalm 79:8.9.11.13. Luke 6:36-38:

In reflecting on the readings this morning I saw a direct connection with our sacrament of reconciliation in the contents of both the selection from Daniel and the Responsorial Psalm 79.  Both were very comforting to see how to prepare oneself for asking forgiveness for our sins in an open and direct manner with God. The readings made me think of both the communal and private celebration of the sacrament.

Daniel, the prophet, presents his prayer to God which is a perfect act of contrition and a plea for God’s help to make this a real promise of covenantal  fidelity in the future.  I found Daniel speaking to me as a member of the community of believers who need to return to God after having failed or broken some of the commandments, precepts or laws of the Lord.  Daniel helps us as we approach this act of begging for God’s forgiveness: “But yours , O Lord, our God are compassion and forgiveness.”  The word “compassion” led me to realize that Jesus would be using this word compassion in what he urged us to have in our relationship with God.

Our Psalm 79 with its response also helps in preparing for the sacrament of reconciliation or for personally asking forgiveness of God for any failings of omission and commission.  “Lord, do not deal with us as our sins deserve.”

Luke presents Jesus as the all merciful and compassionate Lord and our brother in our need for forgiveness in relating to God, neighbor, and even to our own person.  It is an excellent review of our lives in the present selection from Luke 6:36-38.  “Be compassionate as your Father is compassionate.”  What do we learn from the rest of the selection to be compassionate?  We are not to judge others; nor condemn others;  we are to pardon those who have offended us;  and we are to give of ourselves generously to others. Compassion means getting beyond ourselves and our needs, desires, and wants.  We are called to reach out to the marginal, the poor, the lonely and all who need someone to show them compassion.

The word compassion in the New Testament is oiktirmos and means mercy, pity, compassion depending on the context.  Here in Luke 6:36 the word compassion is best.  It is Luke’s way of saying we are holy and even perfect in our path toward God (Matthew 5:48).  Leviticus 19:2 speaks of our being called to be holy.  The word in a Hebrew translation of the New Testament uses rechem or rachamim . The basic meaning of this word is associated with “the maternal womb and consequently the inner impulses and tenderness of a woman.  The very word brings to mind a certain image, recalling the love and affection that a mother shows her child.” (J.Prevost, Dictionary of the Psalms, p.49).  Like the Greek word it is almost always presented in the plural to take a more down to earth interpretation rather than the singular which is more abstract.  This shows us that both the community and the individual is to be compassionate.

“But you, O Lord our God, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.” (Psalm 86:15; 103:8;  111:14;       116:5; and 145:8,9.  Amen.

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