Today’s readings, Ez 18: 21-28 and Mt. 5: 20-26, both address the importance of choosing virtue, of righting the wrongs we have done towards others and ourselves, of turning away from sinful attitudes towards others and ourselves—of letting go of our resentments and our grudges that we hold against one another or against ourselves, of no longer holding others or ourselves in disdain. Ezekiel tells us that if a sinner, turns away from all the sins he [she] has committed, if he [she] keeps all [God’s] statues and does what is right and just, he [she] shall surely live, he [she] shall not die.” On the other hand, if a virtuous person “turns from the path of virtue to do evil, the same kinds of abominable things that the wicked…does, can he [she] do this and still live? None of his [her] virtuous deeds shall be remembered, because he [she] has broken faith and committed sin….”
Those are strong words and, from time to time, each of us is both the sinner and then, again, the virtuous and repentant one. From time to time, each of us turns away from sin to virtue and then, again, away from virtue to sin. With the psalmist in today’s responsorial psalm, we pray:
Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord;
Lord, hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive
to my voice in supplication.
If you, O Lord, mark iniquities,
Lord, who can stand?
But with you is forgiveness,
that you may be revered.
I trust in the Lord;
my soul trusts in his word.
My soul waits for the Lord
more than sentinels wait for the dawn.
Let Israel [let each of us] wait for the Lord.
For with the Lord is kindness
And with him is plenteous redemption;
And [God] will redeem Israel [and each of us]
From all their [our] iniquities.