Friday, February 26, 2010

Friday of the First Week of Lent

Ezekiel 18: 21-28, Psalm 130, Matthew 5: 20-26

Psalm 130 is one of the most moving because it is so intimate and personal. The petitioner speaks from that place where we sometimes find ourselves during the middle of the night, a place of despair, quiet panic, or fear. This position of poignant need is common to human beings of all ages. When they were quite young, both Bach and Mozart wrote beautifully moving choral settings of this psalm.

The psalmist takes for granted that all persons sin. The range of things we “[do] amiss” is vast. From killing other human beings, to destroying Earth’s resources, to looking past people in need, to simply filling our days with endless activities, we have many ways to distance ourselves from others, and thus from God. But the psalmist is utterly confident in the certainty of God’s forgiveness, in God’s “plenteous redemption.” And his “soul waits for the Lord,” not with the agitation of the sleepless, but rather with the assurance and expectancy of watchmen, alert and sure that dawn is coming.

Jesus was steeped in the tradition of prophets such as Ezekiel who emphasized the importance of “turning away from wickedness,” so that transgressions might be forgotten. But Jesus, putting a far finer point on it in his homily, says that it’s not enough to refrain from the most blatant sins, such as murder. Even the smallest acts that put distance between us and other human beings separate us from God as well. Therefore, he instructs us to be mindful of all our human relationships and, on a daily basis, to work to solve these human disagreements. Only then may we fully realize our connection with God’s steadfast love. How different our world would be now if each of us practiced this teaching!

Marsha Trimble

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