My Ways Are Not Your Ways

(from the 2010 Magnificat Lenten Companion)

God's judgment is surprising. Jesus makes it very clear that God's standards are much higher and more sever than those of any human criminal justice system that has ever been devised; even to be angry with one's brother is a serious sin, and simply calling him a fool will lead to fiery Gehenna. At the same time, though, God introduces a new and completely divine element into the question of justice. The instinct to strike back at a person who has offended us is so powerful and so common to our human experience that all justice systems devised according to human judgment are put in place simply to regulate this impulse. It is an axiom of human justice that crime is inexorably followed by punishment. For the scribes and Pharisees, as well as for all other schemes of human justice, sentences for criminals are irreversible. Into this human conception of justice, God gives us a new Word: mercy. Mercy is a rare quality, and wherever it is found, God is also there. It is one of the surest signs of his presence and activity in this world. Simply asking forgiveness from our brother throws us directly onto the breast of God, whose mercy endures for ever. God's justice is truly strange and wonderful!

Reflection based on Matthew 5:20-26
Suzanne M. Lewis

Father of mercy and compassion, give me a simple and
contrite heart, so that I may approach those I've wronged
and beg their forgiveness, thus making my prayer and
offering to you acceptable in your eyes.

Today's suggested penance: Make a gesture of reconciliation with someone from whom you are alienated.