These readings for the weekdays of Lent are especially challenging, aren’t they? They’re supposed to be. They speak of what it means to be a disciple and take up the cross, and they speak of it with urgency. We have to be willing to have our whole world turned upside-down; to do something completely against our nature; to let God take control of the life we want so much to control.
“For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you.” I don’t know about you, but that sounds pretty ominous to me. Because there have been plenty of times when I’ve failed to give someone a break. The measure I sometimes use ends up being a bar set pretty high, and I would sure hate to have to leap over that bar myself. But that’s what Jesus is saying we will have to do.
The real measure of compassion is the compassion of God himself. He is our model, He is the measure for which we are to strive, His example is how we are to treat each other. But when we do that, it means we can’t judge others harshly. It means that we have to see them as God does, which is to say that we have to see Jesus in them and to see the goodness in them. And that’s hard to do when that person has just cut you off in traffic, or has gossiped about you, or has crossed you in some other way. But even then — maybe especially then — we are called to stop judging others and show them the compassion of God.
“Lord, do not deal with us according to our sins.” That is the prayer of the Psalmist today. We are given the promise of forgiveness, but we are also warned that if we do not forgive others, we will not be forgiven either. The measure with which we measure will in turn be measured out to us. I don’t know about you, but I’m going to try real hard to give people a break today.