Both of today's themes are classic for Lent, threads that we pick up time and again in various forms. In the first reading, God is being implored by Daniel to remember His covenant, to hold not the sins of His people against them. They have sinned, but His are compassion and mercy, and Daniel throws himself on those. He has not sinned but the people have, and he speaks for them, taking their place before God. This is what Christ will later do; this is what we do for each other as we go through Lent.
In the Gospel, we have the reverse – God taking the place held by Daniel and the prophets, and speaking to man. All the beauty of Old Testament prophecy - all the promises, all the terrible warnings - is very simply and clearly boiled down. Stop judging, stop condemning, forgive and be merciful as the Father is merciful. What you withhold will be withheld from you. You are to give, and you will receive – not on a one-to-one basis, but many times over. If you've ever measured brown sugar, you know something of the “measuring” Christ speaks of. You don't just scoop it up. You scoop it, press it down with your fingers, scoop and press down more, and more, until you have to slam the measuring cup against the bowl edge to get the packed sugar out. You put in all you can, and then some more. And that is what God turns back to us, from whatever it is we give to Him.
We will meet these themes again and again, and slowly the reality of them will sink in, Lent as a season will unlock itself to us.