"We have sinned, been wicked and done evil."
I am not one to begin a Scriptural reflection with such dire words. However, within an hour, I just heard news reports about the intentional burning of a Texas mosque, the sexual abuse of a black man by French police in a routine stop, nearly 100 deaths while police are on strike in an economically marginalized part of Brazil, and the ongoing "drug war" that has caused thousands of deaths in the Philippines. And this is not a unique day. This resonates with the communal dimension of the verse I have cited. We have sinned. Of course, individuals ultimately make choices, and we often examine our personal sinfulness during Lent. But we cannot overlook the structural sins of our world—racism, mass poverty, religious discrimination, sexism, just to name a few—and our complicity in allowing them to flourish. What do I do when I recognize discrimination around me? Am I seeking to uncover it in its more subtle forms, to question the ways it has slipped into the status quo?
The prophet Daniel indicates that by recognizing God's incredible love for us, we can become aware of our shortcomings—both communally and as individuals within a community. Change is not possible until we recognize what needs to change. God's love can act like a pair of glasses. When we open ourselves to it and experience God's "compassion and forgiveness," our sight becomes clearer, and we can see how far we are from being "merciful, just as your Father is merciful." Take a moment to soak in God's mercy, and find what abundance, "packed together, shaken down, and overflowing," God desires to pour into your lap—for the building of a more just world.
Michelle Cimaroli, ACJ
Graduate Student – Theology & Religious Studies