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Lent Retreat - Week 2, Monday

Monday, March 01, 2010
Readings: Daniel 9:4-10; Luke 6:36-38

'Be merciful, even as your father is merciful' (Luke 6:36).

Before a Dominican takes his vows, the Prior Provincial asks him: 'what do you seek?' The brother replies: 'God's mercy and yours.' As I prepared for my simple profession in September last year, I thought a lot about these words. Why at this moment, when we are only just becoming full members of the Order and of the Province, are we already asking for mercy?

Jean Vanier, founder of the L'Arche movement in which those with disabilities live with those that care for them, described his communities as being 'for those with special needs, and for those that think they don't have special needs'. His point is that each one of us has our weaknesses, each one of us bears the scars of both our own sin and the sin of others, each one of us has an inner darkness. Often however, we are not prepared to admit this. Instead we are tempted to divide the world in very black and white terms: good and bad, friends and enemies, clean and unclean. Yet these distinctions are unreal. They are not based on the truth and cannot set us free. Instead, by denying that we even have a problem, they stunt our development and limit our capacity to love.

When we are in a position to accept the truth that we too have sinned against our neighbour and sinned against God, then we are in a position to accept the truth that God has forgiven us, and so we can forgive ourselves. Once we can love ourselves as we really are, weak and sinful, we can love our neighbour as they really are. We become able to be merciful in the face of the weaknesses of those around us, and forgive those that trespass against us. This is the foundation of true Christian community, and indeed true Christian love.

Nicholas Crowe OP


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