O Lord, God great and to be feared, you keep the covenant and have kindness for those who love you and keep your commandments: we have sinned, we have done wrong, we have acted wickedly, we have betrayed your commandments and your ordinances and turned away from them. We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes, our ancestors, and to all the people of the land. Integrity, Lord, is yours; ours the look of shame we wear today, we, the people of Judah, the citizens of Jerusalem, the whole of Israel, near and far away, in every country to which you have dispersed us because of the treason we have committed against you. To us, Lord, the look of shame belongs, to our kings, our princes, our ancestors, because we have sinned against you. To the Lord our God mercy and pardon belong, because we have betrayed him, and have not listened to the voice of the Lord our God nor followed the laws he has given us through his servants the prophets.
Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Be compassionate as your Father is compassionate. Do not judge, and you will not be judged yourselves; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned yourselves; grant pardon, and you will be pardoned. Give, and there will be gifts for you: a full measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, will be poured into your lap; because the amount you measure out is the amount you will be given back.’
“Grant pardon, and you will be pardoned.”
Not usually a fan of superhero movies, I watched “Joker” recently. At first, I thought this would be a forgettable movie about some childhood make-believe hero. It turned out to be more about the human condition. For one thing, there is no Batman in this movie. It is only about the Joker and how he became what he became.
Without spoiling it for those who may want to watch this movie; it left me pondering about the fact that we are so quick to judge others based on their looks, works, and actions. We pretty much decide our opinion of a person within seconds of first contact, without truly knowing the person and the story or experience behind the character. Don’t get me wrong, I am not excusing bad behavior basehd on anyone’s past or experiences. There are no excuses for behaving poorly no matter what. We should not tolerate bad behaviour, but we need to be compassionate to those who behave badly. Paradoxical? Maybe. How can we be kind when they have offended or hurt others, even worse, when they hurt us?
First of all, bad behaviour has consequences, but it is often not in our place to deliver the punishment. That’s something we should leave to higher powers. Secondly, we want to be compassionate and empathetic to the individual, not their actions. In any case, we can be upset with the sin but not with the person. Humanly impossible? Perhaps. But not for our Lord. On the cross, He asks for God’s forgiveness for His tormentors and accusers. At last, we are not God, you may say. True. But He gives His Grace freely and nothing is impossible for Him, so we can always ask for His help to become more compassionate.
Brothers and sisters, if we truly want to be pardoned, we need to pardon others. That’s more than fair, considering what Jesus suffered for us.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Winnie Kung)
Prayer: Dear Jesus, help us to become more like You, in love and in charity. May we become more compassionate towards others and quick to pardon any wrongs that have hurt us. Keep our focus on You, who can make the impossible possible.
Thanksgiving: Heavenly Father, thank you for Your compassion and mercy, even though we may not deserve Your pardon.