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 the wicked man renounces all the sins he has committed, respects my laws and is law-abiding and honest, he will certainly live.”
During my National Service, a fellow recruit overslept one morning, missing our camp exercise. For his offence, the commanding officer punished the entire platoon, making us stay back over the weekend for guard duty. This upset us and grew with deep resentment for him making his life a living hell that weekend. Later, we realised it wasn’t his fault for oversleeping as he had difficulty getting to bed due to the increase in stress from his family’s financial turmoil.
The lack of understanding was the root cause and it helped us learn the invaluable lesson about being united and the importance of covering each other’s back. We accepted our punishment and watched out for each other during the remainder of the in-camp training. We passed out as ‘brothers’ and, from our first reading, I am reminded that being in God’s army means helping others who struggle in the journey of life; and that I will also be judged for refusing to assist the needy in my path.
The gospel readings helped me address the bad paymasters in my previous job. I learnt to go an extra mile to identify their needs first and this was more beneficial as I pleaded for each outstanding payment even with tears. Due to good communications, we were able to reach an amicable settlement after the negations, and this helped us move forward with the work without bitterness towards each other and prevented costly lawsuits. I am now mindful about the unskilled use of the tongue which can fracture communities and I repent for all the times I have called anyone an ‘empty head’ or ‘numbskull’ for the frightful reality of damnation awaits me.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Christian Eber )
Prayer: Heavenly Father, I seek to be a peacemaker and lead others to do likewise, may we pray for clarity and be quick to forgive, to grow in repentance.
Thanksgiving: Thank you for the hope that we have in Christ’s forgiveness and His Divine Mercy and righteousness.