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Hosea 6:1-6; Luke 18:9-14

Today’s readings talk about asking for forgiveness and mercy, and of redemption.  David begs for forgiveness; Hosea discusses incredible generosity and grace for forgiveness; the Gospel refers to sin and cleansing.  We have the theme here of repentance and knowledge, and of grace given.

What a tremendous feeling it is to know forgiveness and release.  Who among us has not breathed an enormous sigh of relief when a problem, perhaps of our own creation, has gone away, been solved (by us, perhaps, or by another), and we realize that the burden on out hearts and minds has been lifted; we see the clarity of what was, what should have been, but we also feel new, relieved beyond description, happy as a child, a new person.  We feel new, cleaner, better.

It is the way humans are that we feel that way from time to time, and just as much the way humans are that we find ourselves in positions which make the repetition of these feelings possible and necessary.  It’s been the subject of many questions, prayers, books—how can we break this cycle?  How can we just go, and not get ourselves into the same pickle again?

According to Hosea and David, it is love and mercy that is required, not sacrifices, not show.  Contrition seems therefore to be more than a realization—which is certainly necessary—but, going further, a true desire—even better, a plan?--to reform, to change.  As one of the smartest people I’ve ever known has said to me, It’s one thing to feel badly; but it’s another to do something about it.

By Bob Whipple

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