Continuing with the summation of the New Covenant in His Sermon on the Plain, Christ commands His disciples to be merciful and gives some specific behaviors to avoid (judging, condemning) and to embrace (forgiving, giving), warning that men’s treatment of others (both good and evil) will influence their own Judgment.

Christ warns men to not judge, condemn and bear grudges against other men. Christ is not saying to accept sin, for Christ hates sin and urges fraternal correction (Matt 7:5; 18:15). Christ is warning men that the pride of self-righteous judgment and the hatred of condemnation extinguishes mercy and makes it impossible to a man to forgive another’s sin.

To help men accept the challenge to live a life of mercy, Christ points to the punishments and rewards of the Judgment which each man will face. Rather than being judged and condemned, men who offer mercy to others are rewarded with mercy in the Judgment. Christ urges men to forgive as He has taught in the Lord’s Prayer: men will be forgiven their trespasses if they forgive others (“Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive others…” – Matt 6:12). Christ also promises that those who give generously to others will receive extraordinary blessings (“good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over…”).

1) Marvel at how Christ confirms the beautiful reality that God is the perfection of both Mercy (forgiveness, giving) and Truth (Judgment, punishment and reward).

2) While Lent is a time of repentance and mortification for our own sinfulness, sometimes the ultimate blessing of God’s mercy is less emphasized.  Renew your confidence in God’s boundless Mercy (CCC 210-11, 270, 545, 589, 1439, 1846-1848) and pray for Christ to help you be merciful as God is merciful.

3) It is extremely difficult to forgive others when they purposefully trespass against us (physical and mental abuse, stealing, infidelity, slander, etc.). During Lent, grow in your understanding of Forgiveness (CCC 2838-2845) and pray for Christ to help you forgive all those who have hurt you.