Monday of the Second Week of Lent

Lord, great and awesome God,
you who keep your merciful covenant toward those who love you
and observe your commandments!
We have sinned, been wicked and done evil;
we have rebelled and departed from your commandments and your laws.
We have not obeyed your servants the prophets,
who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes,
our fathers, and all the people of the land.
Justice, O Lord, is on your side;
we are shamefaced even to this day....

Chagrin, I suppose, is the word for that feeling of having done wrong and realizing it was not necessary; and no power in heaven or earth can make it undone. Creatures doomed to live in the eternally present, we cannot change the past. Nor, for that matter, do we have much control of the future; especially in the face of all those good intentions which came to nothing.
In our first reading from the Book of Daniel, the authors look back on the history of God's fidelity and human sin. The Jews had a particular gift for history, especially because they could recall their sins and those of their ancestors. Their memory was not clouded by illusions of their ancestors' past greatness. They remembered, "You keep your merciful covenant toward those who love you...."
In this divine dance with our Covenant Partner we are continually stumbling; and it's never an accident: "We have sinned, been wicked and done evil...."
We may find ways to evade that responsibility. We say, "It was an accident!" "I didn't mean to." or "They made me do it."But there are no accidents in human life. We are responsible for our actions and their consequences.
Sometimes our best intentions  and most careful plans blow up in our faces and terrible things happen. Sometimes what  ensues is unavoidable and inevitable. The God who made this Earth with its earthquakes, hurricanes and blizzards understands that. When we own our responsibility the Lord forgives.
But sometimes for reasons beyond comprehension we choose to do wrong. Especially, we  revert to bad habits with the full realization that nothing good can come of this behavior. We've been down this road before and we know where it goes. We cannot expect it will come out differently because we know it won't.
Justice, O Lord, is on your side;
we are shamefaced even to this day....
Occasionally the incident may show that the decision I thought I had made was not made so well as I thought. I didn't actually turn over a new leaf. We are creatures of time and it takes a long time to develop a new, good habit.
Chagrin tells me that my hope does not rely on the promises that I make. My good intentions will never amount to anything, even those few that are not disappointed. Rather, I hope in God's mercy. God knows my frailty, impatience, distrust and disease; and I know that God is faithful.

No comments:

Post a Comment

I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

You're welcome to add a thought or raise a question.