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?
For the past few semesters in the upper division theology classes I teach
here at Creighton, I have used an article by Mark Searle, "The Journey of
Conversion." I'm sure I have alluded to it in the past because it is
such a rich source for reflection on sacraments and a spur to living the
Christian life with more intention.
Today, I want to "borrow" that part of the article in which he poses three
questions about Christian sacraments. As you read these, think of our
scripture passages today and our context of the Lenten journey.
1. What is being left behind?
2. What is this person or community called to?
3. How is this transition to be made and what does it involve?
Let me model a reflection on the first reading here: today's first reading
seems to address mainly the first two questions.
First, Ezekiel calls us to leave all our sins and crimes behind, turning
away from them. Second, he calls us to several responses: take responsibility
for one's sins, keep God's statutes, and do what is right and just. The context
for doing all that is the prophet's invitation to trust in the God "who does
not desire the death of the wicked."
Now that I look at this pattern, I see that the final context mentioned above
addresses question three: Trust in God is essential to the transition between
leaving one's sins and taking up a new way of living. Why? Because
you and I cannot face our iniquity unless we do it in that deeply welcoming
place of God's loving intent to save us.
At this point in time, this means to me that one aspect of this Lenten journey
is the call to grow in the capacity to mediate God's graciousness in a God-like
That is, I believe I am invited this Lent to look at my deeds with a new-found
clarity grounded in the divine embrace. I am asked to learn to be like
God, receiving and holding the mystery of my own iniquity with love and mercy.
Seems to me that only through this movement of spirit, which the Orthodox
boldly call "divinization" (the goal of the spiritual life), can I face that
mystery of not only my own iniquity but also that of my community, our parish,
our archdiocese, our Church, our nation, and our world. Facing that,
maybe I and we can turn from sin, take responsibility for what we have done,
ask for forgiveness and live justly.