Lent 2023 First Reading

Friday of the First Week of Lent

Today we hear from the prophet Ezekiel, of “dry bones” fame. He is the first Jewish person to receive the call to prophesy outside the Holy Land. The children of Israel are captives in Babylon.

Ezekiel says, “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.”

This seems very straightforward, if we repent, God forgives us.

Later in the reading it gets more confusing, at least for me. “When someone virtuous turns away from virtue to commit iniquity , and dies, it is because of the iniquity he committed that he must die.”

In Ezekiel’s mind, there doesn’t seem to be any room for the righteous who stray.

It must have been difficult to maintain their culture and religious practices, once the children of Israel were taken to a foreign land to live. I see Ezekiel’s exhortations in the light of preservation of their faith.

When I ponder readings such as this from the Old Testament, I am thankful for Jesus coming to save us. For I am quite guilty of knowing better and sinning anyway.

Have mercy on me, Lord!

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