BY: Fr. Benny Tuazon

HOMILY: (Mt. 5:20-26) Friday of the First Week of Lent, Day Ten (10) of Lent

In today’s Gospel Jesus stressed the importance of conversion. This is not a one time decision to turn away from a life of sin but an everyday decision throughout our lifetime. This is also a sincere straight from the heart contrition aware of the dreadfulness of remaining in sin and loss of heaven.

Jesus reminds us of an unworthy offering and worship unless we first reconcile with our neighbor. While Jesus mentioned the complexity and pain of legal and social consequences of seeking justice, the best is to settle with the neighbor without outside intervention. The first reading supports this. Those were times of easy decisions to kill sinners. Yet through the prophet Ezekiel, God told His people that it is mercy He seeks and not vengeance. God rejoices in not in killing those who were wicked but when they chose the way to conversion.

God created us all. God gave us the capacity to be Holy. We were not destined to be evil nor intrinsically weak. OOriginal sin exposed us to concupiscence, that is, the first sin of Adam and Eve shattered our innocence. Our faith tells us that God has rescued us from it when Jesus died on the cross. The grace of that death is received in baptism. Baptism gives us new life in Christ. It is our responsibility to live our baptism which is to grow in faith with Christ as our model. It is our task to maintain our holiness. And when we fail, Jesus instituted the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The sacrament allows us to go back to God. There we ask forgiveness from God, our neighbors, and ourselves. The forgiveness is also threefold; from God, from the community, and from the self. Indeed it is easier to ask forgiveness from God. God, as we know is always forgiving.

But with neighbors, we are tentative because we might not be forgiven and most probably be humiliated and even experience vengeance. We must stop this. Christians should imitate the Lord. Yes, it is really hard to forgive. Some hide from the dictum, forgiveness is of the divine. That is not true. Jesus commanded it. It must be probable. I had proven it to myself. Forgiveness, like love is a decision. Besides, forgiveness is much for the forgiven than the forgiven. It follows too that we must be agents of conversion. If God finds joy in a remorseful heart, why can’t we? Spiritual conversion is hard to judge. It is more between God and the person. But we have roles to play too. People who exhibits repentance should be supported and assisted. Rather than doubting them, they should be encouraged.

How we wish God can go down and welcome those who had decided to be converted. But that task has been entrusted to the Church. As members of the Church, we ought to be aware of this responsibility. Let us not ask God where is He or what He is doing? Let us go our way to be His representative to others. Let us live in persona Christi!

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