I was reading a few days ago. (Ok, I was trying to get in some semblance of personal devotions while watching my son play in the dirt outside our house.) Since getting this month’s version of the Magnificat, I’ve been trying to read either the morning or evening Scripture passages and hymns for the day. I’ve haven’t been too successful, but I’m still trying.
As I was reading, I was struck by something odd. In this Lenten time of mercy, in this great Jubilee Year of Mercy, the readings were from some of the imprecatory psalms. Rather than readings that spoke of the love and mercy of God, they called out for justice, for God to reach down from Heaven and bring victory to the writer and destroy his enemies. I couldn’t believe it. Why, in this season of mercy, would you choose to read and emphasize Scripture that seemed so diametrically opposed to that very concept?
As I continued to read, the passages changed from psalms to the prophets where God promised His people that He would send justice down. And then, it struck me. These are the perfect readings for Lent. Why? Because in the end, they point to a specific time when God poured out His justice.
A time when God Himself hung dying on cross. When the breath that gave life to mankind was exhaled one last time. When the justice of God and the mercy of God came together in the greatest paradox of all time and the cry of every broken, wounded heart for justice was answered.
God’s justice is found in His mercy at the cross and God’s mercy is revealed in the justice of the cross.
The readings make more sense now. The truth is that our world still calls out for justice. We all have experienced hurt at some point in our lives – a deep hurt that leaves us desperately longing for the perpetrators to receive their due. And yet, when we pray for justice to come, do we understand what we really are praying for? Do we understand that we are asking for God to take that person to His ultimate expression of justice and love? Do we truly grasp that we are asking for mercy to be poured out again? And if we do, are we ready for that?