Friday of the First Week of Lent
(Ezekiel 18:21-28; Matthew 5:20-26)
At a recently held male spirituality retreat many of the participants were recovering alcoholics. They had decided previously to give their lives to a “Higher Power” as Alcoholics Anonymous prefers to call God and now were deepening their commitment. Although alcoholism is evidently as much a physical as a moral condition, AA at least does not deny some responsibility on the part of alcoholics. They must recognize that they have hurt others by their habit and take responsibility for not falling into the condition again. Today’s readings portray such people as saints.
Ezekiel announces the Lord’s will as the salvation of sinners. It does not free them from responsibility but urges them to reform. Their reward, it says, will be “life.” In the gospel Jesus teaches his disciples that they must seek forgiveness from those they have offended for their altar sacrifice to be worthy.
It is not easy to recognize our sins and even harder to seek the forgiveness of others. Yet both chores are at the heart of Christian faith. If we are going to walk with Jesus, we must act so that our sins are forgiven.