Mon, 8 March 2021
(Dn.3:25,34-43; Ps.25:4-9; Mt.18:21-35)
“With contrite heart and humble spirit let us be received.”
The Lord “guides the humble to justice, He teaches the humble His way,” and so it is the prayer of these He receives; upon them He showers His mercy. For His mercy is His justice and it is known by those who humbly share the same.
Azariah makes his prayer for mercy for his people Israel who suffer the purgatorial fires of their exile from the Promised Land, even as he himself stands in the quite literal fire of the furnace of the King of Babylon for his faithfulness to the living God. He begs the Lord: “Do not let us be put to shame, but deal with us in your kindness and great mercy,” and as he comes humbly and with great faith interceding for others and not himself, and thus exhibiting the mercy he desires of the Lord, he is well protected from the flames by the angel of God. The Lord’s justice is known to him who “follow[s] [Him] with [his] whole heart.”
And Jesus makes quite clear the great mercy God holds for all who humble themselves before Him – “seventy times seven times,” eternally, He forgives. His reign is like the king who “wrote off the debt,” though it was “a huge amount,” of his servant who begged His mercy. For the Lord is “moved with pity” at our contrition for our sins. But the same forgiveness we must offer to others if we are to prove that His blood runs in our veins. The master tells his wicked servant: “I canceled your entire debt when you pleaded with me. Should you not have dealt mercifully with your fellow servant, as I dealt with you?” And indeed the fires of hell and purgatory await those who break their bond of justice and mercy with the Lord by failing to manifest the same grace that has been revealed to their souls. We are sinners and must see ourselves so. The Lord forgives and we must accept His grace. Others seek our mercy and we must grant it to them. This is how the kingdom works. Those who do not follow the Lord’s way of compassion do not enter there.
Brothers and sisters, we must be as Azariah, who “stood up in the fire and prayed aloud.” For all, we must humbly intercede before our merciful God even in this dark world. And for the contrition we show for our sins and those of others, the Lord holds an eternal reward. As our priests, as Peter, as God Himself, let us forgive one another; if we receive one another humbly and mercifully, the Lord will receive us in His grace, in His justice.
O LORD, let us be humble and just in your sight
that we might be saved from our sin
and enter your kingdom.
YHWH, our sins are red as crimson, but you would make them white as wool if we but listened to your Word and put it into practice. If our worship of you were genuine, then we would be truly blessed. But as it is we speak in vain when we call upon your Name. For who among us lives the way Jesus teaches, the way He walked? His chastisement let us treasure, that we might be saved from empty sacrifice.
There is so much pride within our hearts, O LORD, and in our words and actions. We desire to be exalted in the sight of others. Oh if it were but our desire to serve you! If we but sought to be humble and true, then you would raise us to be with you, in the heavenly kingdom.
O let us listen to you, LORD? Let us heed your command, your word of instruction. Let us do what is right and just in your sight and with our neighbor, and your cleansing grace we shall find.