First Reading | Ezekiel 18:21-28
Our final response to God’s call is what matters most. If we repent at the last moment of our life, God will surely listen to our cries of repentance. But let us go to Him now and seek His forgiveness, and not do it at the eleventh hour. Saint Paul tells us that we should respond to God’s call and offer of grace today.
21 Thus says the Lord God: If the wicked man turns away from all the sins he committed, if he keeps all my statutes and does what is right and just, he shall surely live, he shall not die. 22 None of the crimes he committed shall be remembered against him; he shall live because of the virtue he has practiced. 23 “Do I indeed derive any pleasure from the death of the wicked,” says the Lord God. Do I not rather rejoice when he turns from his evil way that he may live? 24 And if the virtuous man turns from the path of virtue to do evil, the same kind of abominable things that the wicked man does, can he do this and still live? None of his virtuous deeds shall be remembered, because he has broken faith and committed sin; because of this, he shall die. 25 You say, “The Lord’s way is not fair!” Hear now, house of Israel: Is it my way that is unfair, or rather, are not your ways unfair? 26 When someone virtuous turns away from virtue to commit iniquity, and dies, it is because of the iniquity he committed that he must die. 27 But if the wicked, turning from the wickedness he has committed, does what is right and just, he shall preserve his life 28 since he has turned away from all the sins that he committed. He shall surely live, he shall not die.
Responsorial Psalm | Psalm 130:1-2, 3-4, 5-7, 7-8
R: If you, O Lord, mark iniquities, who can stand?
1 Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord; Lord, hear my voice! 2 Let your ears be attentive to my voice in supplication. (R) 3 If you, O Lord, mark iniquities, Lord, who can stand? 4 But with you is forgiveness, that you may be revered. (R) 5 I trust in the Lord; my soul trusts in his word. 6 My soul waits for the Lord more than sentinels wait for the dawn. 7 Let Israel wait for the Lord. (R) For with the Lord is kindness and with him is plenteous redemption; 8 and he will redeem Israel from all their iniquities. (R)
Gospel | Matthew 5:20-26
Virtue is about creating a culture of obedience and grace. It is also about correcting the tendency to rely on our own wisdom and strength. Let us grow in holiness by cultivating virtue each day. To accomplish this goal, we first need to get the little things right and carry on this practice in our big and important decisions.
Cast away from you all the crimes you have committed, says the Lord, and make for yourselves a new heart and a new spirit.
20 Jesus said to his disciples: “I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter into the Kingdom of heaven. 21 “You have heard that it was said to your ancestors, You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment. 22 But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment, and whoever says to his brother, Raqa, will be answerable to the Sanhedrin, and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ will be liable to fiery Gehenna. 23 Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar, and there recall that your brother has anything against you, 24 leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift. 25 Settle with your opponent quickly while on the way to court with him. Otherwise your opponent will hand you over to the judge, and the judge will hand you over to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. 26 Amen, I say to you, you will not be released until you have paid the last penny.”