Thus says the LORD:
If you remove from your midst oppression, false accusation and malicious speech;
If you bestow your bread on the hungry and satisfy the afflicted;
Then light shall rise for you in the darkness, and the gloom shall become for you like midday;
Then the LORD will guide you always and give you plenty even on the parched land.
He will renew your strength, and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring whose
water never fails.
The ancient ruins shall be rebuilt for your sake, and the foundations from ages past you
shall raise up; "Repairer of the breach," they shall call you, "Restorer of ruined homesteads."
If you hold back your foot on the sabbath from following your own pursuits on my holy day;
If you call the sabbath a delight, and the LORD's holy day honorable;
If you honor it by not following your ways, seeking your own interests, or speaking with malice
Then you shall delight in the LORD, and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth;
I will nourish you with the heritage of Jacob, your father, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.
Today's readings can be summed up in one word: Mercy. This word has been shaped in recent years by our culture. Even during the Year of Mercy, the media did not always tell the whole story of mercy. We have been told that showing and receiving mercy makes us feel good because of the love we experience from another. This is true, but mercy is so much more. It is the struggle of conversion to the one receiving mercy. It is the journey with another when giving mercy. Mercy is all about conversion.
In the Gospel, Jesus is constantly calling us to conversion. In today's readings He says, "I have not come to call the righteous to repentance but sinners" (Luke 5:32). We are all sinners and Jesus calls us to repent. We have the beatitudes and the 10 commandments and the Holy Spirit in our hearts to guide us to truth. Jesus never shows mercy without also calling to conversion. Isaiah is speaking to the people of God's mercy. They are shamefully taking it for granted and now in their time of exile they have an opportunity to change. He gives them conditions: If you convert, then God will be your delight, your strength and He will even restore you to your beloved homeland.
We are now in Lent, a time of mercy, but this mercy means we must convert. Today, take the time to reflect on the ways God is showing you mercy. Ask yourself, how can you convert? Isaiah gives us a slew of ways in today's reading. Now go one step further: forgive and show mercy to your neighbor in return for the mercy God has shown to you.
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