February 26, 2021
Thus says the Lord GOD: If the wicked man turns away from all the sins he committed, if he keeps all my statutes and does what is right and just, he shall surely live, he shall not die.
And if the virtuous man turns from the path of virtue to do evil, the same kind of abominable things that the wicked man does, can he do this and still live? None of his virtuous deeds shall be remembered, because he has broken faith and committed sin; because of this, he shall die. Ez_18:21-28
Jesus said to His disciples, “You have heard that it was said to your ancestors, ‘You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment,” Mt_5:20-26
So, BE Good and all this will be yours as well!
Today we hear about the value and the reason for living a virtuous life. For some of us, we need constant reminders of that reason. And we might even need a little conversion.
You see, the prospect of conversion can sometimes be a slow process, with that mental wrangling between the “should I’s” and the “shouldn’t I’s.” And that is really why, year after year, we torture ourselves, I’m sorry, we condition ourselves, with this Season of Lent.
Occasionally, the “should I’s” win out, and we actually improve some moral deficiency in our lives. But more often than not, between the distractions, or laziness, or Satan’s temptations, we make it through Lent no better off, than when we started. And part of the problem is that we haven’t been convinced, or are able to convince ourselves, of sufficient reason to change.
Of course, the caveat to this slow conversion process is when some outside, traumatic event jolts us into an awakening; into finally understanding the reason for a need to change some aspect of our lives. And it happens in the blink of an eye!
An example of such a traumatic event might be the unexpected death of someone close to us, close in age, or in relationship, like Lot’s wife, who was turned into a pillar of salt, because of an insatiable curiosity, and a quick peek.
Another traumatic conversion event might be a near-death experience ourselves, like Jonah and the whale, or Lazarus, or the little boy in the “Heaven Is For Real” book. Or it might be like the miraculous, blinding-light conversion of St. Paul, or the Marian vision of St. Juan Diego. Or, even in our own lifetimes, the trauma of the 911 Event, which has caused many a conversion.
Now, granted, these traumatic-inspired conversions occur much-less-frequently than the slow conversions. That is why, sometimes, we need to shock ourselves, or condition ourselves, to understanding the reason for living a life of virtue.
And you know, what it simply gets down to, is the fact that, “we are all going to die.” And if we believe any of this religion stuff, that we’ve been filling our minds with, we also know that there – WILL BE a “Judgment.”
Well, we could just sit there in our sinfulness, and say or think that “I’ll convert just before I die.” And the Prophet Ezekiel substantiates that rationale, reminding us of God’s great mercy toward, even the wicked, who repent. But, how do we know that death will give us ample time to make that conversion, and not surprise us like Paul’s flash of light. And then, it will be – too late.
So, Death and Judgment ARE our Reason!
And since we’re already familiar with living somewhat virtuous lives, just being here at Church, mid-morning, on a weekday, or reading this religious related blog, Ezekiel also tells us that there, is no turning back for us. We are committed to completing this life as a life of virtue or suffering the consequences of a sinful death.
So maybe instead of a “total conversion,” we need an “ongoing formation.” We need a period of Lent every year, just to remind us of our Reason. . . . That death and pain and suffering after mortal life (hell) – is really not a very cool place to be, especially when we
are offered, instead, Eternal Life, at the simple cost of virtue!
And with that, we might be wondering, “Well, how perfect DO I need to get?” Jesus points us in that direction today. And what we learn from Jesus, is that – there is – always MORE Perfect . . .
So this process of Conversion is really an endless one, just as Paul found out, after his blinding-light experience.
And what we discover in the process, is that every moment we are able to take One – More – Breath, it is a another Gift of God in time, for us to grow in Virtue. Time to say, “Thanks” to others, even for the mundane, to say “I’m sorry” for the tiniest of infractions, to say “Yes” to the unknown or the unexpected, that just might BE God’s Will for us, to say, “I love you,” at whatever the cost: “I love you all, forever!”, like tomorrow will never come.
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