Who is there like you, the God who removes guilt and pardons sin for the remnant of his inheritance; who does not persist in anger forever, but delights rather in clemency...
I love the image in today's first reading, of God casting into the depths of the sea all our sins. The Lord is like the little boy who, arriving at the water's edge, searches the ground for rocks and stones to cast them into the lake. His joy is manifest; he delights in clemency.
The spiritual life of the Christian entails seeing as God sees. Balaam knew that as he prophesied blessings for Israel, although he had been hired to lay a curse on them:
The oracle of one who hears what God says,and knows what the Most High knows,Of one who sees what the Almighty sees,in rapture and with eyes unveiled...
Dialogue may be about speaking your own truth; but it's also learning another person's point of view. It's seeing with their eyes, hearing with their ears, and walking in their shoes.
We often approach Lent with dread, thinking that it's about fasting, almsgiving, praying and -- worse -- confessing our sins. But this is God's season and a very pleasant one for God as we turn away from sin and live by the gospel.
The Lord delights in clemency, and it is especially pleasant for God when we receive it. I might be happy to forgive someone for an unfortunate remark or oversight but when he receives my forgiveness and we laugh together about it, that's joy.
It's equally delightful to be forgiven, to laugh with the offended party at my thoughtlessness, rudeness and self-centeredness; to understand that, in her eyes, I am not an evil person.
The Prodigal Son, returning home, believed he was no better than a slave, perhaps fit to feed the calves on a Jewish farm as he had fed hogs for the gentiles. But his father killed the fatted calf upon his return.
Jesus doesn't tell us how the story ended. Did his brother welcome him home? Did he accept his status as a son again, humbled and wisened by his experience?
Jesus left the conclusions for us to answer.