Our first reading today is from Ezekiel 18. In it, God makes it known that He takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked. Why? More in a moment. In the Gospel reading today from Matthew 5, Jesus tells us that we must mend our relationships with our brothers (and sisters) before we go to worship God at the altar. “Be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” As important as our relationship with God is, so are our relationships with our fellow men.
God hates evil. Read that carefully. It does not say that God hates evil PEOPLE. Quite the contrary. God loves evil people. And nice people. And ambivalent people. And irreligious people. And devout people. And…well, you get the message. When we do evil things, it is the deeds that God hates, not the person. In fact, God wants us all to come to Him and participate in the divine life. We see this clearly today in Ezekiel 18. “Do I not rather rejoice when he turns from his evil way that he may live?”
Have you ever known an addict that managed to kick their addiction? Let me tell you, that is cause for great rejoicing. Why? Because they are no longer slowly killing themselves. And so it is with God and us. When we break our addiction (to sin…which we can only do through God’s grace and mercy), God rejoices! And it is precisely because we are no longer killing ourselves slowly but surely. Not killing our bodies, per se. (Though some of our actions certainly do that.) But killing our souls. “If the wicked man turns away from all the sins he committed…he shall surely live.”
Father, help us to turn away from sin. Give us the grace to leave our old ways behind, and become the new creations in Christ that you call us to be. And thank you for rejoicing over us. Amen.
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