Year A: 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time
First Reading: Ezekiel 18: 25-28
The First Reading picks up the theme of repentance in the Gospel. It is part of a much longer reflection by Ezekiel in which he considers the issues of justice and mercy - see the whole of Ezekiel chapter 18.
The question he was considering was - should the sins of the father be visited upon the sons? If a father was a villain - should the son, who tries to live a good life, be punished? If the father has lived a good life - and the son a life of wickedness - should he go unpunished?
It is a question that was particularly lively in a society where kinship was strong - but is a question that remains with us today.
If a child goes off the rails and causes damage - who should be responsible? The child - who cannot pay - or the parents who can?
If a child is born into a family where the parents are dishonest should the child be tarred with the same brush?
It is a question that still vexes us today.
The answer Ezekiel comes to echoes that of the Gospel. Ultimately, we are responsible for the consequences of our own actions.
If we have been brought up in ways of goodness and honesty and then turn to sin and crime - then that is our own decision.
Equally, if we have gone wrong - for whatever reason - but try to turn round and put things right - then that decision sets us at rights with God.
This is more radical than it sounds.
The world looks for retribution - if a parent goes wrong - all too often the children suffer... if a child goes wrong the parents are deemed to be liable however hard they have tried.
We have another example of how differently God thinks - His justice goes far beyond ours.
What does it mean for me?
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