Wednesday, August 31, 2005


Repeatedly, the Liturgy of the Word recalls the words of the Old Testament Prophets. This week it is the Prophet Ezekiel. As with all the prophets, his message came directly from God. This is the reason that the Prophets prefixed their message with the words: "Thus says the Lord!"
Ezekiel warned the people that if they did not turn from their sins, God's wrath would descend upon them in punishment. Yes! God does punish us for sin. Yet, let us be mindful that even the most severe of His punishments is His divine effort to bring us to repentance. Saint Peter tells us that God wants all to attain eternal salvation.
Thus, God's punishment in this life is curative. Man suffers God's punitive punishment comes when he rejects grace and refuses to repent. Then, divine mercy demands divine justice and God's punitive punishment takes place. That is Hell!
In today First reading, Ezekiel warns the Israelites that they must turn from sin and return to God. If they turn from their sins, God, in His infinite mercy, will forgive them completely. But if they refuse they shall die for their guilt.
It is for this reason that the responsorial Psalm repeats the refrain: “If today you hear His voice, harden not your hearts.” Do not block out God’s voice, spoken, in the liturgy, through His holy Church. Repent! Turn away from sin! This message, in one form or another, is the Church’s constant call.
God's eternal law is the ultimate measure of good and evil, not individual conscience, as many will tell us these days. Conscience must be obedient to God's laws as made known by the Church. Because of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, the Catholic Church is "the pillar and bulwark of truth" (1Tim 3: 15).
Thus, everyone must heed the Church’s Magisterial Teachings. Only then can one be certain that he is pleasing Almighty God. Only then can one be certain that God’s blessings will come in this life and the next. If however, the Redemptive Act of Christ Crucified is rejected by unrepentant sin, divine wrath will follow!
The Alleluia Verse of today Mass sums up today’s Liturgy of the Word. Saint Paul tells us: “God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ and entrusting to us (that is, to the Church) the message of salvation.”

Father Richard J. Rego