Friday of the First Week of Lent
EZ 18: 21-28
PS 130: 1-2, 3-4, 5-7A, 7BC-8
MT 5: 20-26
We live in a very judgmental society. Too often, we criticize those who have done wrong, expressing how we would never do what they did, and eagerly serve them their consequences. We rarely think or talk about how to help those who have made mistakes turn their lives around. And too often, we expect them to suffer the consequences forever, evident by controversial felony disenfranchisement (not allowing felons to vote, even after they have served their time) laws and capital punishment (death penalty) practices that we see in many states. In various aspects of society, it is not the norm to give second chances.
This is always very interesting to me because we are all sinners. We have all done things wrong, and honestly, all have skeletons in our closets that we hope and pray others never find out about. It is only by God’s grace and mercy that some of our life’s circumstances did not lead to us choosing the wrong roads in life, and experiencing the consequences of them. I am always reminded of when Jesus said, “He who is without sin, let him cast the first stone” (John 8:7). Honestly, none of us have room to judge others.
Today’s reading tells us that God readily forgives our sins, remembering our crimes no more and granting us new life. So why is it that we are more content with people being persecuted for their wrong than helping them turn from it and begin to do what is right in the eyes of God? The reading states, “Do I indeed derive any pleasure from the death of the wicked? says the Lord GOD. Do I not rather rejoice when he turns from his evil way that he may live?” In this Lenten season, let us challenge ourselves not to find pleasure in the persecution of wrongdoers and to follow God’s example of finding joy when others turn away from their sin. Let us offer a second chance.
Aleidra Allen is the Program Coordinator for Multicultural Education in the Cross Cultural Center.