Friday March 2, Lectionary 229: Ezekiel 18:21-28. Psalm 130: 1-2. 3-4. 4-6.7-8. Matthew 5:20-26
Today’s liturgical readings call us to holiness which is a universal call for all. Ezekiel shows us that no one can rest on his or her laurels in the question of this call. We make choices some of which are virtuous and some of which are sinful. We are judged by the Lord on both. Often a holy stage in our life can suddenly be changed into a hedonistic or prideful way on our part and at other times we turn from a bad habit and acquire a good habit to offset it. Choices are important and have their consequences either for the good or not so good. Ezekiel is carrying out one of his prophetic themes, that of personal responsibility and accountability. God is advising us about our choices in this part of Ezekiel.
Psalm 130 is one of the favorite penitential psalms together with psalm 51. This psalm and its response help us to keep our Lenten prayer alive. The psalms are an excellent way of praying during especially those psalms given in the daily liturgical readings. A good Lenten practice would be to reflect and pray the seven penitential psalms (Psalm 6,32,38,51, 102, 130, 143).
We experience a perfect way of praying for forgiveness through this psalm both because of its personal dimension of contrition from a person with a faithful and open heart and also for the confidence this person has in God who is all merciful
and forgiving. There is a positive image of God in it which helps us to have a desire for reconciliation with the Lord. God’s forgiveness is all-encompassing in this psalm. God’s attentive ear is bent toward the penitent who also has a listening and contrite heart. This psalm shows great respect for the Lord God who liberates us from the abyss of death and the watery jaws of Sheol , the region of the dead.
Jesus gives us one of the most powerful lessons in forgiveness when he says to us,” 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, go first to be reconciled with your sister and brother and then come and offer your gift!” We sense urgency in any of our acts of forgiveness being warned elsewhere “not to let the sun set before we are forgiving or asking for forgiveness”. This saying of Jesus is an important prelude to our participation in the sacred liturgy and in our reception of Holy Communion. It prevents us from being hypocrites or even procrastinators when it comes to healthy relationships with one another. Amen.