Search Your Hearts In This Time Of Repentance And Reconciliation

Friday of Week 1 in Lent

Ez. 1 8:21-28 & Mt. 5:20-26

"If your virtue goes no deeper than that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never get into the kingdom of heaven." What did Jesus mean in these words to His disciples? He was talking about those Pharisees who appeared to live good lives, upholding the law and performing all the necessary religious duties. They could not be faulted on their outward behaviour but Jesus knew that their goodness was often superficial. There was a vast difference between their appearance, and their inner thoughts and attitudes.

To illustrate this Jesus quoted one of the Ten Commandments, "You must not kill, and if anyone does kill he must answer for it before the court." Most people in the world keep that commandment and we should be grateful for that. But just because we do not commit murder should not make us proud! In the eyes of Jesus that is not good enough and He questions us about anger, abusive language and contempt, the things that lead to murder. A person may never dream of committing murder but all through life he or she may have treated certain people in such a fashion as to make them wish they were dead.

Such an attitude, Jesus tells us, is displeasing to His Father. If we are regular Mass-goers and receive Communion, yet we are on bad terms with a relative or neighbour, our devotion is worthless. Our virtue goes no deeper than that of the Pharisees. He says, "If you are bringing your offering to the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar, go and be reconciled with your brother first, and then come back and present your offering." We cannot worship God and do wrong to our brother or sister at the same time. We must make things right with them first; otherwise our worship is unacceptable to God.

Jesus wants us to look into our hearts asking ourselves what kind of service we give to God and to others? Do we come to Church in order to appear respectable but fail to be kind, caring and forgiving? Like the wicked man in today's first reading we must renounce all our sins, and live. And the wonderful thing to note is that unlike us God not only forgives, “All the sins he committed will be forgotten from then on.” Lent is a time for repentance and reconciliation. Let's not miss this opportunity.

Lord Jesus, give each of us the grace to go to Confession this Lent to repent of all our sins, and to live in harmony with You and whoever we meet.