Occasionally I do a general cleaning of my room, mainly to get rid of items that have accumulated over weeks. One afternoon, as I was cleaning the drawers of my table, an envelope sent by a friend caught my attention. It had only the word “Enjoy” written on it. I had kept it safe for later use but had forgotten about it.
Upon opening it, I found a gift card for meals for two at one of my favorite restaurants. My heart skipped a beat. I will have a good dinner. But my happiness did not last. When I checked the back of the gift card, I found it had already expired.
This reminded me of a story about a man named Bill. He had not been to church since his confirmation. One day, he said, “When it freezes in May, then I will go to church.” Remember, May is summertime in the United States and many other countries.
Then one year, there was an unusually cold spring, and it stayed cold into May. The temperature dipped to the freezing point for several nights. Everyone thought about what Bill had said. Perhaps this would be the time he would finally go to the church. And he did.
The organ was playing, people were gathered, and six men were carrying him down the aisle. Then, instead of escorting him to a pew, they left him in a beautiful casket in the middle of the aisle, right in front of the altar. He had finally made it to church.
Don’t wait until you’re “expired” or “frozen” before you decide to enter God’s house.
In today’s first reading, Ezekiel speaks of the need for the wicked man to turn away from his sins for a time of accounting that will come. In the gospel, Jesus uses the parable of settling issues with our brother or sister before you reach the altar with your gifts.
Ezekiel reminds us that we have a choice in life. We can choose to turn away from our wicked ways and do what is right in the eyes of God, or we can choose to continue living in sin and face the consequences. He emphasizes that the choices we make today will ultimately determine our destiny tomorrow.
Similarly, Jesus calls us to reconcile with one another and resolve our conflicts before coming to the altar. It is not enough to simply attend church or perform religious rituals. We must also live a life that is pleasing to God by treating others with love and respect, especially by mending our relationships.
One thing that comes out clearly in the Scriptures, especially the New Testament, is that God has a very short memory. Far from being a defect, it is a quality that very much favors us. He is quick to forgive and forget our sins.
The door of repentance and restoration is open to any man or woman who repents. All that matters is how I relate to God today and each day forward. Maybe this Lent is a good time to make use of God’s mercy through the sacrament of reconciliation. Keeping in mind that the choice to be with God or away from Him is all ours.
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