Scripture: Lectionary 229. Ezekiel 18:21-28. Psalm 130:1-2.3-4.4-6. 7-8.
Holiness is the larger theme within the context of the readings. Prayer,
fasting, and almsgiving are understood since we are within the context of
the Sermon on the Mount. Forgiveness, reconciliation, and conversion
converge as we listen to the great readings given for this day.
Ezekiel is one of the mystical prophetic voices in the Scriptures. He,
however, is also downright practical in the advice and wisdom he gives us
in this passage. He shows us how we are capable through our free will and
our good decisions to convert from our sinful ways; he mentions that we
can easily fall back into wrong decisions and sin even though this may be
our customary way of living and behaving. Justice is at the center of this
pericope and thus God is making it clear through Ezekiel that judgment will
be meted out to us whether we are good or bad.
Psalm 130 is one of the seven penitiential psalms. It may not be used as
often as Psalm 51 in our Lenten liturgies but its message is important
enough to have it brought before us on several occasions during this Lenten
season of prayer, reflection, and renewal. Listening, waiting, trusting in
the Lord are essential to the psalm and demand our positive response.
Jesus makes us aware of our brothers and sisters so that holiness is not an
individual call but a universal one. A Jesus and I spirituality is not
enough for we are a family under God who created us as images and
likenesses of God. We do not make ourselves holy, God and our neighbors do
that. We are not to allow anger to well up against others; we are to be
compassionate and patient. We are to right the wrong we do before bringing
up our gifts to the altar, before giving the sign of peace to one another.
Jesus has given us this beautiful saying that we must be first reconciled
and then offer our gifts. This is a most powerful and life-giving thought
and should be remembered each time we participate in the Eucharist and each
time we remember the Scriptures: “If you bring your gift to the altar, and
there recall that your brother (or sister) has anything against you, leave
your gift at the altar, and go first to be reconciled with your brother
(and sister) and then come and offer your gift.” (Matthew 5: 23-24) Amen.