We find God's forgiveness in the Sacrament of Reconciliation
Today’s Reading (Ezekiel 18:21-28):
‘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.’’
I find this reading fascinating. God certainly comes across as someone who is rather strict, as He is quite clear that people will die if they sin and fail to repent.
Yet, He doesn’t do this lightly. He explains that He takes no pleasure in seeing anyone die; that He would much rather they renounce their wrongdoings and live. He even justifies His actions. He recognises that people will think He is being unfair but He throws this back at the people who do wrong and asks them, ‘is it not what you do that is unjust?’
And that is a question we must ask ourselves. Why do we decry God when He decides to play the part of the strict Father? Is it not for our own good that He wants us to avoid sin and repent any sins we do commit? Of course it is for our own good! If we follow His clear instructions we will live for eternity! If we don’t and we fail to repent then we run the risk of dying. And what is dying? It is complete separation from God. Can you imagine complete separation from love itself? Can you imagine not being loved? Can you imagine living in a place where love just does not exist?
We all need love and we spend our whole lives constantly searching for more love. It is God who can satisfy that longing and He wants us to be with Him forever. But we must work very hard to avoid sin and we must ensure we repent of any sins we do commit through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. We must also keep God’s Commandments and, in particular, heed the call to love God above all else and love our neighbour as we love ourselves. That way we choose God. That way we choose life.