Saturday of Week 2 of Lent – First Reading

Commentary on Micah 7:14-15,18-20

Today’s Mass readings are about God’s great desire that the sinner repent and experience God’s love and tender mercy. The First Reading comes from the prophet Micah, a contemporary of both Hoseah and Isaiah.

The passage consists of a prayer which appears to be from the time after the return of the Jews from exile in Babylon (537 BC). At this time, the people were still few in number, possessed only a fragment of their former land, and were surrounded by hostile nations.

It is a plea for God to take care of his beleaguered people. But there is confidence because their God is quite unlike any other:

Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity
and passing over the transgression
of the remnant of his possession?

The passage reflects what Jesus tells us about God in today’s Gospel.

The people may at times deserve the anger of God, but it will never last, for God loves his people too much. In fact, it is difficult to conceive now of a God who responds in anger when his people sin. It is never he who distances himself from us; it is we who are unfaithful.

We can always be sure of his “faithfulness” and of his “steadfast love”, which he had promised so long ago and so many times. He had sworn to Abraham and Jacob that their descendants would be as numerous as the dust of the earth and the sand on the seashore, and he had promised Abraham that he would be the father of many nations. God will not go back on that promise.

And so, we too have confidence of complete forgiveness and reconciliation. This compassion of God for the sinner and his desire to take him back is graphically illustrated in the marvellous story of the Prodigal Son, the subject of today’s Gospel.

We too, whenever we are truly sorry and ready to change, can be absolutely sure of meeting the same compassion and forgiveness.

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