Scripture: 1st Reading:Ezekiel 18:21-28; Resp. Psalm: Ps129:1-8; Gosp. Accl.: Amos5,14; Gospel: Matthew 5:20-26
God wants us to live. He has planned abundant life for all of us. He wants us to attain eternal blessedness in heaven. He wants us to live our lives here to the fullest and witness to His goodness by our ways of life. He wants us to turn away from the wickedness of our past lives and enjoy a brand new life of freedom from sin and death.
God who created us knows that sin destroys our lives and our union with Him. This is why He gives us unlimited "second chances" to turn our lives over to Him. When we depart from the wickedness of our past lives, do what is lawful and right, we begin to enjoy life in the real sense of it.
This is the whole message God who loves us with an everlasting love has for us in the first reading of this Lenten day. Speaking through the prophet Ezekiel, God said He has no pleasure in the death of the wicked. God the merciful One assures us today that He would rather the wicked turns from their evil ways and live.
When the wicked turns away from evil, they live. The righteous on the other hand, must keep on living in righteousness. To backslide or become a recidivist is a scandal. This is because the righteous has experienced an intimacy with God, has been so close to the light of truth that they should ordinarily have known the difference between the darkness to be avoided and the light to be preferred. This us why the righteous who departs from the way of righteousness dies for their sins.
The word of the Lord is telling us today that our righteousness must proceed from our inner convictions. Our righteousness must be genuine, not based on external shows so that people can see us. We are not to worship God in order to be praised by men. We are to be fully convinced about why we serve God in fidelity.
Our Lord told us today in the gospel that just keeping the minimum requirements of the law is not enough. Keeping them to show off or be praised is also wrong. He teaches us that rather than sticking to the minimum, we should probe deeper into how to outdo one another in doing good. He gave a deeper interpretation of the law.
Our Lord included anger, insult and offensive comments about the neighbour as part of the commandment that forbids us to kill. He told us that important as our offering is, reconciliation with our neighbour must be considered as of primal importance to the process of offering our sacrifices to God. He counsels us to make peace before we arrive at the judgment throne.
Lent is all about turning away from sin and turning our lives to God. Lent is about realization that there is a dysfunction in our relationship with God and neighbour that requires a remedial action on our parts. This Lenten day gives us that opportunity. Let us take full advantage of the mercy of God. Let us turn away from evil and wickedness and live.
Let us pray: "Grant that your faithful, O Lord, we pray, may be so conformed to the paschal observances, that the bodily discipline now solemnly begun may bear fruit in the souls of all."
May the Living Word of God find a true dwelling place within our hearts and souls today and always. Amen.