Wednesday of the First Week of Lent
Psalm 51:3-4, 12-13, 18-19
When God saw their actions how they turned from their evil way, he repented of the evil he had threatened to do to them; he did not carry it out.
Did you catch what this scripture just told us? “God… repented”! God changed what God was going to do. God wound up doing the opposite of what God had threatened! God blessed those whom God had discerned as worthy of being destroyed. Why? Because when confronted by God’s displeasure at their behavior the people changed their ways and begged forgiveness.
When God saw by their action how they turned from their evil way, he repented of the evil that he had threatened to do to them; he did not carry it out. God didn’t require some terrible punishment. God didn’t demand some form of recompense. God heard their prayer, noted their penitential behavior and accepted their plea. He did not carry out the evil that he had threatened! But God did expect that they would not return to their former ways.
Recently the global church has been challenged by the scandals of abuse which have taken place in our midst. Recently Pope Francis and some of the Cardinals blamed an inbred abuse of power, which they referred to as “Clericalism”, as a major factor in enabling these abuses. They called for major reform throughout the church which would ensure that all persons in positions of authority, especially bishops, would be subject to accountability to others – including select, competent, and informed laypersons.
Pope Francis and the Cardinals also suggested that Clericalism is often supported, and practiced, by others who are not clergy but who benefit in some way from its practice.
We are the Church. This Lent our “fast and abstinence” could be our response to this prophetic challenge by consciously changing our ways and requiring that all in leadership roles, including ourselves, be accountable for our impact on less powerful persons. Then, perhaps, God will repent again.
Fr. John M. Lee, C.P., is Retreat Director of Bishop Molloy Retreat House, “The Passionist Spiritual Center in New York City”, www.bishopmolloy.org