In today’s first reading, Ez 18: 21-28, the prophet talks about God’s ways, namely that if a wicked person turns away from his wickedness to live a virtuous life, God delights in him or her, as God does not take pleasure in anyone’s death. Also, if a virtuous person, Ezekiel tells us, turns from virtue and chooses evil, that person is choosing death, a death in which the Lord does not delight. It may be difficult for us to think about any member of Isis, for instance, or any other hardened criminal, turning from his or her wicked ways and finding favor with the Lord, as did the good thief on the cross. The conversion of any sinner, no matter what the wrongdoing might have been, delights the Lord. Our wickedness saddens Him.
Our salvation is the reason Jesus died on the cross. It is the reason Jesus was obedient to the Father unto death. His intent and the intent of His Father is that every person turns from evil to do good, accepting the free gift of salvation. That is what gives God joy, a joy in which God wants each of us to participate for eternity. He will even lengthen our lives in the hopes that we will in time return to Him in holiness before we face our deaths. That is our God: a God of compassion, a God of mercy, a God of love, a God who, on the cross, suffered severe thirst for the redemption of sinners, the least to the greatest.
In light of God’s mercy, may I not stop praying for the conversion of sinners, my own conversion and that of every person sitting in our prisons anywhere in the world; the conversion of every person addicted to evil, every person deceived by Satan's cunning lies and who, thereby, deny people their right to be born, their right to justice, their right to being treated with dignity, their right to freedom, their right to a just wage, their right to live life fully and to make choices that are live-giving to them.