Saturday of week 2 of Lent – First Reading

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

Today’s Mass is about God’s great desire that the sinner repent and experience God’s love and tender mercy.

The reading comes from the prophet Micah, who was a contemporary of Hoseah and also of Isaiah.

The reading consists of a prayer which appears to be from the time after the return of the Jews from exile in Babylon (537 BC), when 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. The passage reflects what Jesus tells us about God in the Gospel.

“What god can compare with you: taking fault away, pardoning crime, not cherishing anger for ever but delighting in showing mercy?” 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 “faithful 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. He 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 put graphically in the marvellous story of the Prodigal Son, which is the subject of today’s Gospel.

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

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