Friday of the First Week
I found today’s readings most appropriate for a Friday during our first week of Lent. We believe that Christ came into this world to show us how we need to live in order to be saved, and to sacrifice Himself on the cross on Good Friday to redeem us and atone for the sins we have committed.
In the first reading, we are told that if a wicked man turns away from all the sins he committed and decides to change his life by doing what is right and just, he will be rewarded with eternal life. On the other hand, we are told that if a virtuous man turns from the good path and does evil, he will be denied eternal life. I have heard some people say that they find it difficult to accept that a person who has been on an evil path for most of their life, but then recognizes this and reconciles with God just before death, should be saved. This might feel especially unfair to a person who feels he or she has done everything possible to live a virtuous life to avoid evil. With the house of Israel, our “virtuous person” might cry out, “The Lord’s way is not fair!” And that may underscore the challenge of understanding and accepting the divine through the reality of our human condition.
The Responsorial Psalm and the Gospel provide us with some assurances and guidelines about the path we need to follow to attain eternal life. In the Psalm, we are assured that the Lord is willing to accept our call for forgiveness and allow us to experience redemption, despite our many iniquities and our human failures. We are assured that He will redeem us from all our sins if we simply ask for forgiveness and change our sinful ways; but He makes a request of us as well as we read in today’s Gospel. We hear what He expects from us in order to be saved when Jesus tells His disciples, “unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter into the Kingdom of heaven.” He then goes on to tell us that if we expect or hope to be forgiven by Him, we must do the same for those who have offended us. We all know how difficult it is to forgive someone who we believe has offended us, but without such an effort on our part, how can we expect the Lord to do the same for us?
Lord, I know that You are all good and willing to forgive me. Help me to see the good in others and give me the strength and courage to forgive those who have offended me. Amen
Jerry Flanagan, ‘71, Former Vice-President of Admission and Enrollment Management
First Reading: Ezekiel 18:21-28
Gospel: Matthew 5:20-26
Daily Scripture readings can be found online at the USCCB website