– Friday of the 1st Week of Lent –
‘But if the wicked turn away from all their sins that they have committed and keep all my statutes and do what is lawful and right, they shall surely live; they shall not die.’ [Ezekiel 18:21]
We cannot progress very far on our Lenten journey without encountering ‘sin’. We begin by acknowledging that each of us struggles to live the life to which God has called us. Jesus appears to make it even harder by instructing us to be “perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect” (see Matthew 5:48). It is a challenging benchmark.
We have three options when failure strikes. The first is to deny that we have failed. The second is to become weighed down by our failure. Neither of these options is very helpful. The first is dishonest – and God cannot work where there is dishonesty. The second is also unhelpful because it is simply not true – nothing you can do is beyond God’s ability to forgive. Neither of these options is real.
The third option – and the only healthy one – is to calmly admit to what has been happening and to ask for forgiveness and healing. It is this option that Ezekiel is offering us in today’s text.
The image of the little child is very useful here – even though it might tweak our pride a little. It is an image that Jesus uses: ‘unless you become as a little child … you will not enter the kingdom of heaven’ (see Matthew 18:3). The perfection that God asks of us is the perfect trust of the child reaching up for the parent. Can we humble ourselves enough to allow that to be made a reality in us?
By Shane Dwyer