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Since 1732, the Redemptorists — a congregation of missionary priests and brothers — have followed in Jesus’ footsteps, preaching the Word and serving the poor and most abandoned.
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Lenten reflection, day 22

Scripture readings: Hosea 6:1-6; Psalm 51; Luke 18:9-14

The key to understanding today’s readings is found in the psalm: “It is mercy I desire and not sacrifice.” This is nearly an exact quote of God’s statement in the first reading.

There, in place of the word mercy, God asks for love. In the context of the readings, we understand God’s call for love as a merciful love, the love that God expects us to have toward one another.

In Hosea there are two speakers. The first is Hosea, who encourages us to turn back to God, assured of His mercy. The second speaker is God Himself, who tells us the disposition we should bring with us, namely, a merciful love of others and an appreciation of who God is and what He is like. God wants us to know Him.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus puts all this together in the parable of the two men praying in the Temple. The Pharisee is obviously lacking in merciful love.

The tax collector, a sinner, humbly approaches God with a contrite spirit. The story is simply another spelling out of Jesus’ summary of the greatest commandment: to know and love God and to love my neighbor as God loves me.

Rev. Patrick McGarrity, C.Ss.R.
Ephrata, Pa.

Download our 2014 Lenten reflections booklet here.

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