“Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live?”
A reading from the Book of the Prophet Ezekiel (Ezekiel 18:21-28)
Thus says the Lord God: “If a wicked man turns away from all his sins which he has committed and keeps all my statutes and does what is lawful and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die. None of the transgressions which he has committed shall be remembered against him; for the righteousness which he has done he shall live. Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, says the Lord God, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live? But when a righteous man turns away from his righteousness and commits iniquity and does the same abominable things that the wicked man does, shall he live? None of the righteous deeds which he has done shall be remembered; for the treachery of which he is guilty and the sin he has committed, he shall die. Yet you say, ‘The way of the Lord is not just.’ Hear now, O house of Israel: Is my way not just? Is it not your ways that are not just? When a righteous man turns away from his righteousness and commits iniquity, he shall die for it; for the iniquity which he has committed he shall die. Again, when a wicked man turns away from the wickedness he has committed and does what is lawful and right, he shall save his life. Because he considered and turned away from all the transgressions which he had committed, he shall surely live, he shall not die.”
The word of the Lord.
RESPONSORIAL PSALM Psalm 130:1-2.3-4.5-7a.7bc-8(R.3)
R/. If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, Lord, who could stand?
Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord;
Lord, hear my voice!
O let your ears be attentive
to the sound of my pleading. R/.
If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities,
Lord, who could stand?
But with you is found forgiveness,
that you may be revered. R/.
I long for you, O Lord,
my soul longs for his word.
My soul hopes in the Lord
more than watchmen for daybreak.
More than watchmen for daybreak,
let Israel hope for the Lord. R/.
For with the Lord there is mercy,
in him is plentiful redemption.
It is he who will redeem Israel
from all its iniquities. R/.
VERSE BEFORE THE GOSPEL Ezekiel18:31
Glory and praise to you, O Christ. Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed, says the Lord, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. Glory and praise to you, O Christ.
Go first and be reconciled to your brother.
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Matthew (Matthew 5:20-26)
At that time: Jesus said to his disciples, “Unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. You have heard that it was said to the men of old, ‘You shall not kill; and whoever kills shall be liable to judgement.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgement; whoever insults his brother shall be liable to the council, and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be liable to the hell of fire. So if you are offering your gift at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Make friends quickly with your accuser, while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison; truly I say to you, you will never get out till you have paid the last penny.”
The Gospel of the Lord.
The Gospel of today is a challenge to the conventional understanding of the Commandments of God. The Jews held tenaciously to the letter of the law. Jesus, however, throws more light on the commandments, speaking more on the spirit of the law than the letter. Thus anger, insult and humiliation of another, all these are not listed in the law, but are offences against the commandments of God, and have dire consequences. For the Christian faithful Jesus’ directives are a revolution on the law. His advice is that one should be willing to reconcile with his/her neighbour, no matter what. And that worship without love is a dirty practice before God. Love, though not mentioned in this text, is the basis for the worship of God. Sins against love are unnecessary anger, backbiting, insult, humiliation of another, blackmailing etc. accordingly, all these constitute the murder of another. Shun them!