Sometimes I think we can get carried away doing penance during Lent. I must admit that for many years I refused to talk about the need for repentance because I thought life held enough challenge and people I knew needed nothing more to feed their poor self-esteem. I have now come, I hope, to a healthier place where admission of imperfection lives in concert with a willingness to reform. This is the message that stands out to me in the lectionary readings for today, clarifying God’s desire for us and urging us on from the very first words.
Come, let us return to the Lord, Hosea calls out. Let us know, let us strive to know the Lord; as certain as the dawn is his coming…He will come to us like the rain, like spring rain that waters the earth…Speaking for God, Hosea then announces: For it is love I desire, not sacrifice, and knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings. (HOS 6:1-6)
The psalmist picks up the theme saying: Have mercy on me, O God, in your goodness; in the greatness of your compassion wipe put my offense…My sacrifice, O God, is a contrite spirit; a heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn. (PS 51)
These texts have taken up a peaceful place in my being and allow me to be confident in God’s compassionate acceptance of my honest efforts at conversion.