First Reading: (Ezekiel 18:21-28)
‘If the wicked, however, renounces all the sins he has committed, respects my laws and is law-abiding and upright, he will most certainly live; he will not die. None of the crimes he committed will be remembered against him from then on; he will most certainly live because of his upright actions. Would I take pleasure in the death of the wicked — declares the Lord Yahweh — and not prefer to see him renounce his wickedness and live?
‘But if the upright abandons uprightness and does wrong by copying all the loathsome practices of the wicked, is he to live? All his upright actions will be forgotten from then on; for the infidelity of which he is guilty and the sin which he has committed, he will most certainly die.
‘Now, you say, “What the Lord does is unjust.” Now listen, House of Israel: is what I do unjust? Is it not what you do that is unjust? When the upright abandons uprightness and does wrong and dies, he dies because of the wrong which he himself has done.
Similarly, when the wicked abandons wickedness to become law-abiding and upright, he saves his own life. Having chosen to renounce all his previous crimes, he will most certainly live: he will not die.
Responsorial Psalm: (Psalms 130:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8)
From the depths I call to you, Yahweh: Lord, hear my cry. Listen attentively to the sound of my pleading!
If you kept a record of our sins, Lord, who could stand their ground? But with you is forgiveness, that you may be revered.
I rely, my whole being relies, Yahweh, on your promise.
My whole being hopes in the Lord, more than watchmen for daybreak; more than watchmen for daybreak let Israel hope in Yahweh.
For with Yahweh is faithful love, with him generous ransom; and he will ransom Israel from all its sins.
Gospel: (Matthew 5:20-26)
‘For I tell you, if your uprightness does not surpass that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never get into the kingdom of Heaven.
‘You have heard how it was said to our ancestors, You shall not kill; and if anyone does kill he must answer for it before the court. But I say this to you, anyone who is angry with a brother will answer for it before the court; anyone who calls a brother “Fool” will answer for it before the Sanhedrin; and anyone who calls him “Traitor” will answer for it in hell fire.
So then, 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. Come to terms with your opponent in good time while you are still on the way to the court with him, or he may hand you over to the judge and the judge to the officer, and you will be thrown into prison.
In truth I tell you, you will not get out till you have paid the last penny.
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