Daniel 9:4b-10 (Daniel's prayer asking forgiveness for the people of Israel after the Dispersion)
Psalm 79:8, 9, 11 and 13 (Remember not against us the iniquities of the past)
Luke 6:36-38 ("The measure with which you measure will in turn be measured out to you")
I stared at this set of readings off and on yesterday afternoon. Even this morning, as I knew the time was coming to prepare this post, I had writer's block.
There is the obvious connection regarding one of Lent's key themes: forgiveness. I said that at the beginning and I'll hold on to it. Understanding and acting on forgiveness and its related theme of mercy are my two biggest goals in this holy season; if indeed these can be considered 'goals' and if indeed I would have any such goal.
Anyone I've talked to for any length of time knows that when I talk of that expanse of real estate known as the Middle East, I tend to mention that this part of the world has been fought over perhaps more than any other part of the planet. In our 21st Century geopolitical mindset the reasons for the constant conflict may have become lost, but somebody somewhere has always fought for control of the region.
Daniel's prayer comes at a time between the reign of King David and the birth of Jesus, about 600 BCE. The kingdom of Israel established by David and continued by Solomon had split in two and ultimately fallen apart, to have been taken over by the Babylonians. Once a general peace is established, King Darius will allow the dispersed to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the Temple.
But the more meaningful of the readings is today's Gospel. If you don't want to be judged or condemn, then don't do those things yourself. If you want to be forgiven, you must forgive others.
Having stated the obvious, though, I am at a loss this morning as to where to go with this. To borrow a quote from Jesus, the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.
I could forgive people for doing something that happens more often than I'd like. In doing so I could appear to be either judgmental, or condoning behavior that has potential for trouble that could manage the rest of somebody's life.
I will instead pray as Daniel did, that God show us mercy and forgiveness, that we might turn away from uncommitted pleasures and build commitment in our relationships with each other and with God. It is the better choice. If I am committed in prayer over the issues in my life, the best discerned action will come.