Friday of the First Week of Lent
(Ezekiel 18:21-28; Matthew 5:20-26)
The elderly couple just lost their middle-age son. Although they were deeply caring parents, they were not emotionally distraught. When asked how they felt, they responded that they were at peace because their son had just returned to the sacraments after a long absence. They were just grateful that God called him home in the state of grace. Certainly the couple’s faith reflects Ezekiel’s oracle of today’s first reading.
The passage manifests the working of divine justice. It describes God’s mercy obliterating one’s past sins upon repentance. Discomforting to many, however, it goes on to damn the person who leaves the virtuous path. The prophecy seems too rigid as it implies that a single indiscretion can obliterate a lifelong pursuit of virtue. In fact, the passage considers this question but then dismisses it. It implies that the person was not pursuing good for God’s sake but to achieve earthly reward. God wants people to do what is right in response to his love.
The reading provides a sobering lesson for us. We must not only do the right thing but do it for the right reason. When we act out of love for God, we assure ourselves of His blessing.