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Lectio Divina Reading

January 24, 2003

CONTRITION AND MERCY

Old Testament Reading

Jer 3:12-22

12 Go, proclaim this message toward the north:

" 'Return, faithless Israel,' declares the LORD , 'I will frown on you no longer, for I am merciful,' declares the LORD , 'I will not be angry forever. 13 Only acknowledge your guilt- you have rebelled against the LORD your God, you have scattered your favors to foreign gods under every spreading tree, and have not obeyed me,' " declares the LORD .

14 "Return, faithless people," declares the LORD, "for I am your husband. I will choose you-one from a town and two from a clan-and bring you to Zion. 15 Then I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will lead you with knowledge and understanding. 16 In those days, when your numbers have increased greatly in the land," declares the LORD , "men will no longer say, 'The ark of the covenant of the LORD .' It will never enter their minds or be remembered; it will not be missed, nor will another one be made. 17 At that time they will call Jerusalem The Throne of the LORD, and all nations will gather in Jerusalem to honor the name of the LORD. No longer will they follow the stubbornness of their evil hearts.

18 In those days the house of Judah will join the house of Israel, and together they will come from a northern land to the land I gave your forefathers as an inheritance. 19 "I myself said,"

'How gladly would I treat you like sons and give you a desirable land, the most beautiful inheritance of any nation.' I thought you would call me 'Father' and not turn away from following me. 20 But like a woman unfaithful to her husband, so you have been unfaithful to me, O house of Israel," declares the LORD.

21 A cry is heard on the barren heights, the weeping and pleading of the people of Israel, because they have perverted their ways and have forgotten the LORD their God.

22 "Return, faithless people; I will cure you of backsliding."

PS 103:1-13, Of David.

1 Praise the LORD , O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. 2 Praise the LORD , O my soul, and forget not all his benefits- 3 who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, 4 who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, 5 who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.6 The LORD works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed.

7 He made known his ways to Moses, his deeds to the people of Israel: 8 The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. 9 He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; 10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. 11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; 12 as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. 13 As a father has compassion on his children

New Testament Reading

John 6:35-39

35Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty. 36But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. 37All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. 38For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. 39And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day.

Other Readings on Contrition and Mercy

1 Pet 2:9-10

Jn 12:35-36

2 Cor 5:17-6:2

Is 54:4-8

Mt 11:28-30

Is 65:1-2

Ps 130


The Cup of Mercy

Excerpts from Joyce Rupp, The Cup of Our Life

"The dialogue with God, which begins with the confession of one's own failures, is not depressing; it is liberating. At last, perhaps even for the first time, we have been honest with ourselves about what we are; and we have been honest with the one Person before whom there is no deception." (Emilie Griffin)

Part of our flawed human condition is that we do sometimes fail. Beatrice Bruteau writes: "Falling is part of the journey" (The Easter Mysteries). Webster's Dictionary lists many definitions of failure: deficiency in a duty, obligation, or expectations; lack of success toward a desired end; insufficiency; falling short; not passing; entirely wanting; omitting of neglecting.

I have discovered that no matter how hard I try, I continue to fail every now and then. I still make mistakes, poor decisions, hasty judgments, and badly chosen comments. Sometimes these are intentional behaviors and sometimes I "mess up" without ever intending to do so. The blessing of failure is that it leads me to greater truth if I do not let myself drown in discouragement, regrets, or self-disparagement.

Did you ever notice the people whom Jesus called and drew to himself? They were people who failed, people who were flawed. These very ordinary people were the ones Jesus yearned to teach and to guide toward wholeness. We don't find Jesus lingering very long with people who thought they were living life perfectly. In fact, it is the ones who thought they were living perfectly (the scribes and Pharisees) whom Jesus severely reprimanded.

It is out of our human lives that God reaches us. We expect that these lives would be less wounded, less bumbling, less muddled. We hope that our lives would have a quality of "pureness" to them, but God reaches us in the way that God has always reached human beings, through our ordinary, flawed lives.

No matter what the reason for our failures, we need to eventually move to the place where we forgive ourselves for how we have failed. We also need to ask forgiveness of God and of others if we have harmed them. And then we turn with trust to the One who readily and endlessly extends the cup of mercy to us. The scriptures are very clear about God's welcome of us, even when we feel like the greatest failure in the world.

Look at your flawed life today and let God come into it.

Reflection

Remember one of the failures of your life.
Write a word for this failure on a small piece of paper.
Notice any emotions you have as you hold the failure.
Speak to God about your thoughts and emotions.
Ask to receive God's understanding and mercy.
Listen quietly to God's response.

Prayer

Wellspring of Mercy, you welcome me home,
You understand my human failings.
You embrace me in my incompleteness.
You Help me move on from failures and defeat.
How good and gracious is your kindness to me.

Today

I will greet myself mercifully at least once today.


Julian of Norwich 47 Chapter

For it seemed to me that to a soul whose intention and desire is to live, God's wrath would be one of the chief characteristics of his mercy. But for anything which I could see or desire, I could not see this characteristic in all the revelation. But I shall describe something of how I saw and understood the operations of mercy, as God will give me grace.

I understood in this way. Man is changeable in this life, and falls into sin through naivete and ignorance. He is weak and foolish in himself, and also his will is overpowered in the time when he is assailed and in sorrow and woe. And the cause is blindness, because he does not see God, for if he saw God continually, he would have no harmful feelings nor any kind of prompting, no sorrowing which is conducive to sin.

So I saw and felt at the same time, and it seemed to me that the sight and the feeling were great and plentiful and gracious in comparison with what is our common feeling in this life. But still it seemed to me humble and petty in comparison with the great desire which the soul has to see God. For I felt in myself five kinds of activity, and they are these: rejoicing, mourning, desire, fear and true hope. Rejoicing, because God gave me knowledge and understanding that it was himself whom I saw. Mourning, and that was because of weakness. Desire, which was that I might see him always more and more; understanding and knowing that we shall never have perfect rest until we see him clearly and truly in heaven. The fear was because if seemed to me in all that time that that sight would fail and I should be left to myself. The true hope was in the endless love, for I saw that I should be protected by his mercy and brought to bliss.

Journaling

One failure I still need to forgive myself for is ___________________.

What do you think and feel about your failures? Have you changed because of them? If so, How?

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