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Lectionary 229: Second Chances

February 25, 2015

229.docx

Lectionary 229. Scripture for Feb. 27. Ezekiel 18:21-28.  Psalm 130: 1-2,3-4,4-6, 7-8. Matthew 5:20-26:

We all have enjoyed second chances in our lives.  Today we learn how God not only gives us second chances, but many chances to change and become better members of the Church.  This is the call we have on this second Friday in Lent.  It is Ezekiel who is the first prophet to break through with a new revelatory message that shows us how much God respects each individual person.  We may call this gift the freedom of God and our own dignity to become responsible in a mature way to God’s demands upon us.  We are not punished for the sins of others; only for our own willful and sinful choices are we punished.  Yet, if we change and try to be better in our responses to God then we are recreated anew in the spirit.  If we rest on our laurels and think we are virtuous, we may need to take a second look and realize that we need a second chance to become better persons.  A good person can fall from virtues yet God awaits that person;  God forgives once we realize we need a second chance.

The readings are about our status in relationship to God. The first reading is clear on this and so is the Psalm.  The Gospel speaks about our relationship with one another as brothers and sisters.  The readings encourage us to remain good and be persevering in the pursuit of virtue and faithfulness to God.  We judge ourselves on the type of choices we make.  We are not discouraged if we fail for we know God is always more forgiving than demanding when we repent and turn  to God with all our hearts.

Psalm 130 is a perfect Psalm for Lent. It is an individual lament and asks for a restoring of our relationship with God.  In a movie I saw many years ago called the “Sixth Sense” a little boy is praying in a church reciting this Psalm in Latin while he fumbles  with his toy soldiers in the pew in front of him.  De Profundis… “Out of the depths…”  You and I can experience a way of praying for forgiveness through this psalm both because of its personal dimension of contrition from a faithful and open heart and also for the trust and confidence it gives us in God who is all merciful and forgiving.  Through this prayer we appreciate the positive image of God and are led through a desire for reconciliation with the Lord our God.
God’s forgiveness and love is all encompassing in this hymn.  God’s attentiveness  us convinces u that God has a listening heart.  Our Psalmist has a profound respect for God which liberates him and us from the depths of the abyss of death and the watery jaws of Sheol (the abode of the dead in the Bible).

Another one of my favorite passages is found in the Sermon on the Mount cited in our selection from Matthew.  This is a very unique wisdom prayer given to us by Jesus that shows us the need to be at peace with our brothers and sisters before offering ourselves and our gifts at the altar.  It is a perfect “proximate preparation” for the exchange of peace that we honestly and sincerely give to one another in the celebration of the Eucharist.  I love to cite it to myself and to recall it here:

“So if you are offering your gift at the altar, and there you remember that  your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift before the altar and first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then go and offer your gift.” (Matthew 5: 23-24).

I am in admiration of this wisdom command of Jesus to me and am reminded that I am not to allow the sun to go down on my sin but need to make the day really an act of love and service by reconciling myself with my brother or sister whom I have offended before offering worship and praise to God.  I leave the gift there at the altar as an enticement to come back and finish the sacred gesture of offering gifts after having made peace with my neighbor. The Lord is giving me a second chance to come back and participate fully in the community’s love for God by its love for one another. Amen.

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