Daniel

 Chapter 9

4B-10

 
Pope Francis     17.03.14   Holy Mass  Santa Marta            Daniel 9: 4B-10,      Luke  6: 36-38
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Jesus’ invitation to mercy is intended to draw us into a deeper imitation of God our Father: be merciful, as your Father is merciful. However, it is not easy to understand this willingness to show mercy, because we are accustomed to presenting the bill to others: you’ve done this, now you have to do this. In short, we judge, and we fail … to leave space for understanding and mercy.

In order to be merciful, two attitudes are needed. The first is “self-knowledge”. In today’s first reading, Daniel recounts the humble prayer of the people before God and their acknowledgement that they are sinners: “We have sinned and done wrong, but to thee belongs righteousness, and to us shame”. In the presence of a repentant people, God’s justice is transformed into mercy and forgiveness.

This challenges us, by inviting us to make room for this same inner attitude. Therefore, to become merciful, we must first acknowledge that we have done many things wrong: we are sinners! We need to know how to say: Lord, I am ashamed of what I have done in life.

Even though none of us has ever killed anyone, nonetheless we still have committed many daily sins. Therefore, acknowledging that we have sinned against the Lord, and being ashamed in his presence is a grace: the grace of knowing that one is a sinner! It is easy, and yet “so very difficult” to say: “I am a sinner and I am ashamed of it before you and I ask for your forgiveness”.

Our Father Adam gave us an example of what one should not do. For he blamed the woman for having eaten the fruit and he justified himself, saying: “I have not sinned; it is she who made me go down this road!”. Eve then does the same thing, blaming the serpent. Yet one should acknowledge one's sin and one’s need for God’s forgiveness, and not look for excuses and load the blame onto others. Perhaps someone helped me to sin, and opened the road: but I did it!

If we act in this way, how many good things will follow: we will truly be men. Furthermore, with this attitude of repentance we will be more capable of being merciful, because we will feel God’s mercy for us. In the Our Father, in fact, we do not only pray: “forgive us our trespasses”. We also pray “forgive us as we forgive those who trespass against us”.

The second attitude we need is “an openness to expanding our hearts”. It is precisely shame and repentance that expands a small, selfish heart, since they give space to God to forgive us. What does it mean to open and expand one’s heart? First, it means acknowledging ourselves to be sinners and not looking to what others have done. And from here, the basic question becomes: “Who am I to judge this? Who am I to gossip about this? Who am I, who have done the same things, or worse?”

The Lord says it in the Gospel: “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not and you will not be condemned; forgive and you will be forgiven. Give and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap”. This is the “generosity of heart” that the Lord presents through the image of those going to collect grain who enlarged their aprons in order to received more. In fact, you can receive far more if you have a big heart! A big heart doesn’t get entangled in other peoples lives, it doesn’t condemn but forgives and forgets as “God has forgiven and forgotten my sins”. 

In order to be merciful we need to call upon the Lord's help, since “it is a grace”. And we also need to “recognize our sins and be ashamed of them” and forgive and forget the offences of others. Men and women who are merciful have big, big hearts: they always excuse others and think more of their own sins. Were someone to say to them: ‘but do you see what so and so did?’, they respond in mercy saying: ‘but I have enough to be concerned over with all I have done’. If all of us, all peoples, all families, all quarters had this attitude, how much peace there would be in the world, how much peace there would be in our hearts, for mercy brings us peace! Let us always remember: who am I to judge? To be ashamed of oneself and to open and expand one’s heart, may the Lord give us this grace!



Pope Francis      09.03.20 Holy Mass Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae)            Daniel 9: 4-10
Monday of the 2nd Week of Lent - Lectionary Cycle II
Pope Francis talks about Sin and Shame - Santa Marta 09.03.20

In these days, I will offer Mass for those who are sick from the coronavirus epidemic, for the doctors, nurses, volunteers who are helping them, for their families, for the elderly in nursing homes, for prisoners. Let us pray together this week, this strong prayer to the Lord: “Redeem me, O Lord, and have mercy on me. My foot stands on level ground; I will bless the Lord in the assembly."

The first Reading of the Prophet Daniel (9:4-10) is a confession of sins. The people recognize that they have sinned ... "Sir, you have been faithful to us, but we have sinned, we have acted as villains and been wicked. We've been rebellious, we've departed from your commandments and your laws. We have not obeyed your servants, the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes, our fathers, and all the people of the land" (vv. 5-6).

This is a confession of sin, a recognition that we have sinned. And as we prepare to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation, we must do what is called an "examination of conscience" and see what I have done before God: I have sinned. Recognizing sin. But this recognition of sin cannot be just to make a list of intellectual sins, to say "I have sin", then I say it to the Father and the Father forgives me. It's not necessary, it's not right to do this. This would be like making a list of things I have to do or that I have to have or that I did wrong, but it stays in my head. A true confession of sins must remain in the heart. To go to confession is not only to tell the priest this list, "I did this, this, this, this ...", and then I leave, I am forgiven. No, that's not it. It takes one step, one more step, which is the confession of our miseries, but from the heart; that is, that that list that I have done bad things, goes down to the heart. And so does Daniel, the prophet. "Justice, O Lord, is on your side; we are shamefaced " (see v. 7).
 
When I recognize that I have sinned, that I have not prayed well, and I feel this in my heart, there is this feeling of shame: "I am ashamed to have done this. I ask your forgiveness with shame." And shame for our sins is a grace, we must ask it: "Lord, may I be ashamed." A person who has lost his sense of shame has lost a sense of moral judgement, loses the respect of others. He's a shame. . "Lord," continues Daniel , "we are shamefaced, like our kings, our princes, our fathers, because we have sinned against you" (v. 8). "But yours, O Lord, our God, are compassion and forgiveness" (v. 9).

When we have not only the memory, the memory of the sins we have done, but also the feeling of shame, it touches God's heart and he responds with mercy. The path to God's mercy is to be ashamed of the bad things, the bad things we have done. So when I go to confess, I will say not only the list of sins, but the feelings of confusion, of shame for having done this to a God so good, so compassionate, so just.

Today we ask for the grace of feeling ashamed: to be ashamed of our sins. May the Lord grant this grace to all of us.




  

 Chapter 13
 1-9,15-17, 19-30, 33-62
 
Pope Francis   30.03.20 Holy Mass Casa Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae)   Daniel 13: 1-9,15-17, 19-30, 33-62,   Psalm 23: 1-6,    John 8: 1-11
Monday of the 5th Week of Lent - Lectionary Cycle II
Pope Francis Casa Santa Marta 30.03.20

In the Psalm, we prayed: "The Lord is my shepherd: There is nothing I shall want. Fresh and green are the pastures where he gives me repose, near restful waters he leads me to revive my drooping spirit. He guides me on the right path. He is true to his name. If I should walk in the valley of darkness, no evil will I fear. You are there with your crook and your staff. With these you give me comfort."

This is the experience that these two women had, whose story we read in the two Readings. An innocent woman, falsely accused, slandered, and a sinful woman. Both sentenced to death. The innocent and the sinner. Some Fathers of the Church saw in these women a figure of the Church: holy, but with sinful children. They said in a beautiful Latin expression: "The Church is the caste meretrix (chaste sinner)", the saint with sinful children.

Both women were desperate, humanly desperate. But Susanna trusts God. There are also two groups of people, of men; both had positions in the Church: the judges and the doctors of the Law. They were not ecclesiastical, but they were in the service of the Church, in the courthouse, and in the teaching of the Law. Different. The first, those who accused Susanna, were corrupt: the corrupt judge, an emblematic figure in history. Even in the Gospel, Jesus recounts, in the parable of the insistent widow, the corrupt judge who did not believe in God and did not care about others. The corrupt. The doctors of the law were not corrupt, but hypocrites.

And these women, one fell into the hands of the hypocrites and the other into the hands of the corrupt: there was no way out. "Even if I should walk in the valley of darkness no evil will I, because you are with me with your crook and staff, with these you give me comfort. " Both women were in a valley of darkness, they went there: a valley of darkness heading towards death. The first explicitly trusts God, and the Lord intervened. The second, poor woman, knows that she is guilty, shamed before all the people – because the people were present in both situations – the Gospel does not say it, but surely she prayed inside, asked for some help.

What does the Lord do with these people? He saves the innocent woman and does her justice. To the sinful woman, He forgives her. The corrupt judges, He condemns them; and the hypocrites, He helps them to convert and in front of the people Jesus says: "Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone", and one by one they are gone. With what irony the Apostle John says: "When they heard this they went one by one, beginning with the elders." He gives them some time to repent; He does not forgive the corrupt, simply because the corrupt are incapable of asking for forgiveness, of going beyond. They were tired ... no, it's not that they were tired: they are not capable. Corruption has also taken away from them that capacity that we all have to be ashamed of, asking for forgiveness. No, the corrupt are sure of themselves, they go ahead, they destroy, they exploit people, like this woman, everything, everything ... goes on. They put themselves in God's place.

And the Lord responds to the women. To Susanna, He frees her from these corrupt people, and she goes ahead, and the other: "Neither do I condemn you. Go away and don't sin anymore." He lets her go. And this, before the people. In the first case, the people praise the Lord; In the second case, the people learn. Learn what God's mercy is like.
Each of us has our own stories. Each of us has our own sins. And if you don't remember them, think a little: you'll find them. Thank God if you find them, because if you don't find them, you're corrupt. Each of us has our own sins. Let us look at the Lord who does justice but who is so merciful. Let us not be ashamed of being in the Church: let us be ashamed of ourselves as sinners. The Church is the mother of all. We thank God that we are not corrupt, but are sinners. And each of us, looking at how Jesus acts in these cases, trusts God's mercy. And pray, with confidence in God's mercy, pray for forgiveness. "Because God guides me on the right path because He is true to His name. Even if I walk in the valley of darkness – the valley of sin – no evil will I fear you are there. With your crook and staff. With these you give me comfort."