15 March 2019
Thus says the Lord:
‘If the wicked man renounces all the sins he has committed, respects my laws and is law-abiding and honest, he will certainly live; he will not die. All the sins he committed will be forgotten from then on; he shall live because of the integrity he has practised. What! Am I likely to take pleasure in the death of a wicked man – it is the Lord who speaks – and not prefer to see him renounce his wickedness and live?
‘But if the upright man renounces his integrity, commits sin, copies the wicked man and practises every kind of filth, is he to live? All the integrity he has practised shall be forgotten from then on; but this is because he himself has broken faith and committed sin, and for this he shall die. But you object, “What the Lord does is unjust.” Listen, you House of Israel: is what I do unjust? Is it not what you do that is unjust? When the upright man renounces his integrity to commit sin and dies because of this, he dies because of the evil that he himself has committed. When the sinner renounces sin to become law-abiding and honest, he deserves to live. He has chosen to renounce all his previous sins; he shall certainly live; he shall not die.’
Jesus said to his disciples: ‘If your virtue goes no deeper than that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never get into the kingdom of heaven.
‘You have learnt how it was said to our ancestors: You must not kill; and if anyone does kill he must answer for it before the court. But I say this to you: anyone who is angry with his brother will answer for it before the court; if a man calls his brother “Fool” he will answer for it before the Sanhedrin; and if a man calls him “Renegade” he will answer for it in hell fire. So then, if you are bringing your offering to the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar, go and be reconciled with your brother first, and then come back and present your offering. Come to terms with your opponent in good time while you are still on the way to the court with him, or he may hand you over to the judge and the judge to the officer, and you will be thrown into prison. I tell you solemnly, you will not get out till you have paid the last penny.’
‘If your virtue goes no deeper than that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never get into the kingdom of heaven.
We live in a world where the adage “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” is often practiced. People form alliances and befriend each other for the purpose of mutual benefit instead of with the intention of wanting to help the other party.
This is not what we are called as Christians to do. Instead we are called to extend love and generosity to the people around us. This means that we need to accept the people for who they are regardless of the faults which they have. Yet sometimes we are tainted by the ways of the world. We make friends only with the people who are of gain to us and whom are able to help us achieve the means in our lives.
The first reading reminds us of the need to live a life of virtue and not abandon the ways which have been taught to us. We must stay close to God and not deviate away from the path which God has set out for us. It is not difficult for us to stay on the straight and narrow path but we are called to do so in this season of Lent where God has allowed us to experience him more deeply through the tools of prayer, fasting and almsgiving.
(Today’s Oxygen by Nicholas Chia)
Prayer: Heavenly Father, let us discover what it means to be your children and walk in the way of your love.
Thanksgiving: We give thanks for the people who guide us towards the path of righteousness.