First Friday of Lent

Readings: Ez 18: 21-28 / Ps 130: 1-8 / Mt 5: 20-26

In today’s reading from Matthew, Jesus initially reminds us of the ancient law against murder. “You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment.”  Surprisingly, He quickly moves on to warn against name calling. Jesus is telling us words can kill! A young teen tormented by cyber-bullying … takes their own life. A young adult “outed” … dies as the result of gay-bashing. A human being labeled “illegal” … is sent back to a place that can’t or won’t allow them to live. World “leaders” hurl verbal insults at one another … there is a fear of nuclear holocaust. Words spoken in anger destroy relationships and may ultimately result in death. Words do indeed have the power to take our lives from us. Words kill!  As followers of Jesus we are called to use our words wisely, to “reconcile”, to build up our relationships not tear them down. Today’s gospel acclamation sums up our Lenten call:

“So turn around! Turn your backs on your rebellious living so that sin won’t drag you down. Clean house. No more rebellions, please. Get a new heart! Get a new spirit! “

Ezekiel 18:31 (The Message//Remix)

Constance M. Murphy