Your Father is Merciful
Grace and mercy to you from God our Father,
and the Lord, Jesus Christ.
Today, Jesus is showing his mercy to us.
Mercy is when I am not punished they way I deserve.
What does merciful Jesus say to us? Be merciful as My Father in heaven is merciful. Do don punishes others they way they deserve. I have sent my only begotten Son to demonstrate My mercy to you. In response to My mercy, learn from Me to be merciful to others. Do not punish others the way they deserve.
Judge not, and you will not be judged. But, of course, you have judged. You have judged the motives of those who have offended you. You have acted rashly and assumed the worst of people. You have spoken words of judgment about them to your friends and family.
Condemn not, and you will not be condemned. But, of course, you have condemned. From cursing damnation on the person who cut you off on the interstate to giving the cold shoulder to someone who offended you: you have done your fair share of condemnation.
Forgive, and you will be forgiven. But, of course, that is easier said than done. You want others to forget your faults and give you love and forgiveness – but in return you have often only offered a hollow sort of mercy: “I can forgive, but I can't forget.” That isn't forgiveness. That's holding a grudge.
Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you. With whatever measure you have measured, God will fill it up to the brim and pour it back into your lap. Give condemnation, judgment, and grudge holding; give little white lies and great big black ones; give pride and anger; give harsh words and hate: it will all be measured back to you. What comes around on earth goes around in heaven. Are you ready for that to be poured in your lap?
Repent. The Gospels are not Poor Richard's Almanack and Jesus is not Benjamin Franklin doling out platitudes of practical wisdom. These words from our Lord today are not quaint, homespun sayings: they are warnings that burn with the fire of God's holiness and they are death to all the sons of Adam and daughters of Eve. These words expose sin and show it for what it is. It does no good to argue that you have forgiven sometimes, that you have sometimes spoken well of your enemies, that you have sometimes not judged and not condemned. For with the measure you measure with it shall be measured to you: and if some of your sins are forgiven, it is not enough: hell still awaits. So repent.
These words from Jesus are meant to drive you to despair of any hope in yourself. They are meant to drive you to the despair that is the beginning of repentance. To repent means to turn around, to turn away from the excuses that men and women make to try to justify themselves and instead turn to God and say: Amen, Lord. You have spoken truth. I am not merciful as you are, I am not forgiving as you are. I am not worthy to be called your child. I am a sinner. And I have no hope in myself. Amen and amen. This is so.
Admit this, say Amen to this, and then you will know the joy of repentance. The joy that comes from taking off your mask, coming clean, and refusing to justify yourself and make excuses. Everyone here is a hypocrite – those are the only people we allow in the Church. The difference is that here we are not allowed to pretend that we're not hypocrites. We proclaim a standard – God's standard in his Law as the true and good standard by which all men should live. And then we start every meeting together we have by confessing that we have not kept it. That we do not live up to God's standard. That is repentance: acknowledging that what God says in his Law is true, and admitting that I have not kept it.
Yes repent, and then you will know joy. Stop trying to excuse and justify yourself – for the Good News is that you don't have to. The Good News is that Jesus came to justify you himself. He is the only excuse you need. For he did not judge – and yet he was judged to be the sins of the world and was thus executed on the cross. He refused to condemn – and yet he was condemned as the innocent victim, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. He forgave – and yet even though he had done no wrong which required forgiveness, he received the weight of the world's sin and found no reprieve, no comfort, no lifting of the weight.
And that is God's mercy. That is his love for you. That is how much he desires to forgive you. This is far beyond the image and shadow of forgiveness that we give in this life. We might forgive someone because, after all, we are sinners too. We all make mistakes – so let's just let bygones be bygones. But no so with God. He is holy and just; and he made humanity to be that way as well. We turned away from him and deserve nothing from him. But still his mercy seeks to forgive us – even though that meant that he himself would have to take up human flesh, become one of us, and suffer all condemnation and judgment on the cross.
But in his doing of that, you are justified – you are excused. For God looks at you now and says: though your sins be as scarlet, I have made them like snow. My Son has paid for them on the cross. They are gone. They are forgiven and forgotten. I do not condemn you nor do I judge you, for all that condemnation has fallen on Jesus.
That is the only justification, the only excuse you need. Jesus died for you. It is finished. Sin is gone. You are now God's child. He put you in Jesus in your baptism. You are connected to him know. You have the very fruits of the cross delivered to you in the Sacrament of the Altar – Jesus' own body and blood fill you and you are forgiven, justified, excused. Jesus has taken the log out of your two eyes and formed it into his cross. The eternal Joseph has forgiven his brothers of the flesh: he will care for you and your little ones. All is forgiven. (Amen)
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. (Amen)
The peace of God,
which passes all understanding,
keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Amen)