6 April, Saturday – A moment of grace, not disgrace

6 April 2019

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Jeremiah 11:18-20

The Lord revealed it to me; I was warned. O Lord, that was when you opened my eyes to their scheming. I for my part was like a trustful lamb being led to the slaughter-house, not knowing the schemes they were plotting against me, ‘Let us destroy the tree in its strength, let us cut him off from the land of the living, so that his name may be quickly forgotten!’

But you, the Lord of Hosts, who pronounce a just sentence,
who probe the loins and heart,
let me see the vengeance you will take on them,
for I have committed my cause to you.

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John 7:40-52

Several people who had been listening to Jesus said, ‘Surely he must be the prophet’, and some said, ‘He is the Christ’, but others said, ‘Would the Christ be from Galilee? Does not scripture say that the Christ must be descended from David and come from the town of Bethlehem?’ So the people could not agree about him. Some would have liked to arrest him, but no one actually laid hands on him.

The police went back to the chief priests and Pharisees who said to them, ‘Why haven’t you brought him?’ The police replied, ‘There has never been anybody who has spoken like him.’ ‘So’ the Pharisees answered ‘you have been led astray as well? Have any of the authorities believed in him? Any of the Pharisees? This rabble knows nothing about the Law – they are damned.’ One of them, Nicodemus – the same man who had come to Jesus earlier – said to them, ‘But surely the Law does not allow us to pass judgement on a man without giving him a hearing and discovering what he is about?’ To this they answered, ‘Are you a Galilean too? Go into the matter, and see for yourself: prophets do not come out of Galilee.’

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Pass judgement on a man without giving him a hearing

I write today’s reflection with heaviness and sadness in my heart. Recently, it was in the press that a former administrative director of our community had been jailed for embezzlement. This matter was brought to light some 4 years ago. At the time, many were shocked, hurt, angry, betrayed and sad. All sorts of emotions must have surged through those who knew him better or even worked with him. It pained those who had to take the decision to make an official report. He is one of our brothers and he has fallen. Yes he was trusted by all and yet he fell. I wonder if I were to be put in his position, given the opportunity, would I too fall into temptation.

The months that ensued must have been so painful to all involved. I imagine the numbers of trips to be made to the relevant authorities, the questions asked, the probing. The agony of waiting for the trial and verdict. I am not sure why the case took so long before it went to court and sentencing. Maybe other cases more pressing and more serious in nature came before. I didn’t know him too well but the question keeps coming to my mind – why did he do it? Why would he risk his reputation, his family, his life for such a small sum of money? Was he in need or in debt?

Days after the sentencing, my heart was so heavy and sad. It was a huge mistake on his part, maybe a moment of folly and there was a price to pay. Was it worth it? I’m sure we all say a resounding ‘No.’ I imagine the pain he must be experiencing, the pain his family felt, the shame it brought to his family. But you know what was so beautiful, so loving and forgiving? Our Spiritual Director had asked us all to pray a novena for him, and his family. I could see that he was also in pain, our dear Father. That we should pray for the presiding judge to have compassion and a soft heart. “This is nothing to rejoice about, to feel alarmed or to gossip about. Our brother has fallen and we must be compassionate.”

Such is the family of God. I believe that over the years, the emotions may have faded but as we neared the sentencing date, old wounds may have been brought up again. But it was heartening to see everyone pray as a community for our dear brother. Temper justice with mercy. Justice should always be tempered by compassion. We see this incident as a moment of grace and not disgrace. These were the words that were released to the press. And I know that these words are real and come from the hearts of our priest and community.

When sentence was passed. He apparently looked resigned. But he did take a moment despite his impending incarceration, the years he will spend paying for his mistake to send a message to say “I’m sorry.”

Today’s entrance antiphon: The waves of death rose about me; the pain of the netherworld surround me. In my anguish I called to the Lord, and from his holy temple he heard my voice.

God has forgiven him. Who are we to judge? Today I say a prayer for him. For God’s grace, kindness and love to envelope him.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Geraldine Nah)

Prayer: Lord, today we offer up our prayers to those who have wronged us, hurt us and betray us. Fill us with compassion and love. May your mercy direct our hearts.

Thanksgiving: Thank you for your grace Lord. For your kind mercy and compassion. With your help, may we not sin again.

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