Scripture: Is1,10,16-20; Resp. Psalm: Ps50,8-9,16-17,21,23; Gosp. Accl.: Ezek18,31; Gospel: Mt23,1-12
Sodom and Gomorrah were two cities that were notorious for terrible sins in the Bible. For their sins, these two cities were destroyed by fire and brimstone from heaven. The displeasure of God at the level of perversion was great. They were destroyed because they were stuck in their ways and refused the offer of forgiveness that was made.
Both cities became the imagery used in the prophecy of Isaiah in today's First Reading. The point here is clear: if the rulers of Sodom and Gomorrah had listened and changed, both cities would probably still be in existence today. Secondly, if God could offer forgiveness and reconciliation to these two pervert cities, then there is no sin we commit that He cannot take us back. But with a caveat.
The word of God today gives us the conditions we need to fulfil to access the mercy and forgiveness of God. Every sinner is to wash and make themselves clean. Every sinner is to have a spiritual purification, a renewal of the inner self. The next step is to remove all wrong doing from the sight of God, that is, to refuse to glory in sin, to abhor sin because we are convinced that it is opposed to the holiness of God.
Sin is evil doing. The third step is to stop doing evil and start doing good. In other words, to dedicate one's life to seeking and doing only the good. The fourth step is to work for the good of the neighbour: "seek justice, correct oppression; defend the fatherless, plead for the widow."
When anyone who seeks a return has done this, God in His infinite mercy and goodness will give the person a new beginning, a new life: "though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool." The one who obeys the voice of the Lord and repents shall eat the good of the land; the one who refuses shall be devoured by the sword.
The word is clear today: repent and live; be obstinate in sinfulness and die. This repentance must proceed from deep within us. It must come out of the conviction that we desire good relationship with God more than anything else. We are to repent not as an external show of piety, the way the Pharisees that our Lord condemned, did it.
The fruit of our repentance should be seen in the conduct of our lives. It should be seen in the transformation that takes place within us. It should be seen in the humility with which we carry out our actions. It should be reflected in the quality of service that we render to our brothers and sisters and the passion we put into doing this. It must be seen nothing only in the way we preach but more importantly, in the way we practise what we teach to others.
On this Lenten day, God's appeal to us us to leave behind our past and embrace the future He is offering to us. He appeals to us to learn to do good and avoid evil and humble ourselves before Him. Let us heed His voice today and enter into His peace.
Let us pray: "Guard your Church, we pray, O Lord, in your unceasing mercy, and since without you mortal humanity is sure to fall, may we be kept by your constant help from all harm and directed to all that brings salvation." Amen.
May the Living Word of God find a true dwelling place within our hearts and souls today and always.