In today's Gospel (Luke 6: 36-38), Jesus has some strong and very difficult words for us. Be merciful. Stop judging. Stop condemning. Forgive. Each of these is a challenge by itself. Put them together and we have a real workout for Lent. But they are not intended to be simply a part of a seasonal "extra" that is practiced for six weeks. No, the Lord means for us to try and always live according to these principles. And He tells us why it is so important that we strive to do these things. He declares that "the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you.” So we are really deciding on the standard that God will use in judging us.
Well, I don't know about you, but I have a lot of changing to do. If God is going to use the standard that I have used in the past, I am in big trouble! That is the beautiful thing about God, though. He is ready and willing to give us another chance, if we acknowledge our sin and commit to changing. And that is part of the Lenten process. We practice acts of penance and self-denial so that we can more clearly see the things that we have to change in our lives. We are better able to focus on people whom we judge, condemn, or from who we withhold mercy. We are called to concentrate not just on our own need for forgiveness, but also on forgiving others.
This Gospel is one I need to refer to often. Perhaps the more I read and meditate on these hard words, the more I will strive to put them into practice!