Friday of the 1st week of Lent, March 3, 2023
Ez 18:21-28; Ps 130:1-8; Mt 5:20-26
When I read the readings for today, I almost burst out laughing. While my kids are grown now, I cannot tell you how many times I heard, ”It’s NOT Fair!!” And now, we have Ezekiel saying a similar thing, “The Lord’s way is not fair!” Um, the last time I checked, life is not fair, but, I think, if we think about it, we will agree that the Lord’s way is fair. At least if we listen and obey Him, we will find out He is more than fair. How So? By listening to what NOT to do and how we can turn away from sin.
Since Ash Wednesday, we have been hearing many admonitions on what we should and should not do. All to remind us of our own fallen nature and what can happen if we fall prey to sin. Today is no different and, in fact, it digs a little deeper into what will happen to us. Jesus minces no words, you will be liable to a fiery Gehenna, He says. That seems pretty harsh, but Jesus always spoke the truth. Sometimes that truth is hard to hear. But it is what it is, and nothing can change that.
As I told my kids when they were growing up, it is important that we see how much the world influences us to make those poor choices, and what we can do to overcome it. When we look closely, we see very clearly who is trying to run the world, and trust me, it is not someone you want to make friends with. If it sounds all pretty much doom and gloom so far in Lent, then I encourage you to go back to the beginning of Lent and re-read all the scriptures presented to us in the daily readings. Yes, we are being exhorted to turn from sin, but there is also hope. We just need to look for it.
In today’s Psalm, for example, we hear tremendous words of hope. We start by pleading with God, “Lord, hear my voice!” But then we turn our attention to what God can do for us. “But with you is forgiveness…” the psalmist says. Here we recognize that we can be saved from our sins; if we turn to God. “I trust in the Lord; my soul trusts in his word” the psalmist laments. We, like the psalmist, make the conscious decision to turn from sin, just like the wicked man in Ezekiel’s story does and God forgives him, He will forgive us as well. “For with the Lord is kindness, and with him is plenteous redemption.” Plenteous redemption, what more could we ask for?
Lastly, there is a prayer that is in the missal that we do not recite much during daily Mass, but it is there, right before the Gospel reading. Today’s prayer says, “Cast away from you all the crimes you have committed says the Lord, and make for yourselves a new heart and a new spirit.” This is the hope we have for in Lent, the hope of a new heart and clean spirit. Now go out there, re-read the readings, and find the hope God offers us today.