III Lent: No condemnation

Having wrestled last week with truth and the governance of our words, we move deeper into this week’s intent of “understanding.”  (Readings: I Peter 3, John 8)  The intent is not just a vague notion of developing understanding as self-improvement, but a call to embody the understanding and compassion of God as seen in Jesus Christ.  We all act toward the good, even if our vision of the good is very limited and selfish.  Most of us are quick to absolve ourselves and explain away our actions.  However, we don’t give others the latitude we give ourselves, condemning them and therefore failing to see them in truth.

The collect tells us that God’s way is quite different.  God is the one who knowest all things and art therefore all-forgiving.  God’s knowledge, God’s justice, and God’s mercy are – unlike ours – identical, and extend toward us in the form of forgiveness.  Through a living participation in Christ’s forgiveness, we not only cover the multitude of sin, but come to a true understanding of ourselves and others.  Knowledge that is devoid of mercy and forgiveness is not only lacking, but simply false.  Jesus shows us that the way of transformation is not through condemnation, but through forgiveness.  Mercy melts the veils which hide us from one another, making the New Life possible.  Let us listen deeply this Lent, hearing Jesus say to us:  Neither do I condemn thee; go and sin no more.

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