Friday of the First Week of Lent
(Ezekiel 18:21-28; Matthew 5:20-26)
If we were to ask St. Thomas Aquinas which is more important to offer a gift at the altar or to reconcile with someone whom we have offended, he would probably make a distinction. (He always makes distinctions) He would say something like in order of priority, we should reconcile with the offended person first. But, he would add, in order of importance, it is greater to give God His due.
Jesus would no doubt agree. What may surprise some, however, is that he does not say that an offering to God makes up for the offense against another human being. But Jesus knows that humans are images of God. As such, all of them – young and old, black and white – deserve not just a cool respect but our sincere love. For Jesus it would be hypocrisy to worship God while ignoring the offenses we have committed against a neighbor.
These seven weeks of Lent are set aside to reconcile ourselves with both God and neighbor. We need to make a thorough examination of conscience and to confess our sins. We also need to recognize how we have offended others and to seek their forgiveness.