Again this week our scripture readings invite us to reflect on God’s mercy. God is in the business of saving souls, not condemning them. In the verses just before today’s First Reading, God says that a wicked person who converts at the end of life will live. Then God says: “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?” (Ezekiel 18:23) Then God goes on to say that a virtuous person who turns to sin at the end of life shall die. It is at this point that today’s First Reading begins with the cry: “The Lord’s way is not fair!” To this God replies: “Is it my way that is unfair, or rather, are not your ways unfair?”
Every sin is in some way an act of disobedience. Like obedience, it is our free choice. God respects the sovereignty of our free will. This is why even the virtuous man who turns to sin at the end of life will die. This is not God’s will; it is the man’s will. God’s will is expressed in the plea to sinners found in the final verses of the chapter from which today’s First Reading is taken: “Cast away from you all the crimes you have committed, and make for yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. Why should you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies, says the Lord God. Return and live!” (Ezekiel 18:31-32)
Thank God that he will be our judge on Judgment Day. Recall the conclusion of the parable of the lost sheep: “There will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance.” (Luke 15:7) What does God have to do that he has not done? Saint Paul ponders this when he asks: “He who did not spare his own Son but handed him over for us all, how will he not also give us everything else along with him?” (Romans 8:32) The humble obedience of Jesus “to the point of death, even death on a cross,” mentioned in today’s Second Reading, is to be the model for us all: “Have in you the same attitude that is also in Christ Jesus.” Today’s Responsorial Psalm concludes with this fitting prayer: “Good and upright is the Lord; thus he shows sinners the way. He guides the humble to justice, and teaches the humble his way.”
This weekend we are announcing the Diocesan Annual Appeal for the coming year. You will be receiving in the mail the information about what the Appeal supports and why it is important. Although the targets for both our parishes are lower than last year’s, they still require us all to participate to meet them. Last year both parishes met their targets, but because of the generosity of some last-minute donors. The number of donors from both parishes was less than the year before. Let’s all get on the wagon early, make responsible pledges, and reach our targets early! We can easily do it if every household participates.
Timothy Reither from our parish and Eric Mashak from Saint John the Baptist in Cooks Valley will be ordained deacons at the Basilica of Saint Peter in the Vatican on Thursday, October 1. Let’s support them and all our seminarians in prayer. Elsewhere in the bulletin read about a prayer vigil at Saint Charles on the eve of their ordination, September 30.
Pray the rosary this week for Timothy Reither and Eric Mashak. Pray for all affected by wildfires, hurricanes and windstorms, and those working to help them. Pray for the development of a covid-19 vaccine and, as always, pray for peace.
May God bless his people with peace.