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1st Week of Lent, Friday - Mar 6th

Ezekiel 18:21-28 / Matthew 5:20-26
Jesus teaches about anger: “The angry person is liable to judgment.” 
The motor of a woman’s car died just as the traffic light turned green. She tried to restart it, but with no luck. Meanwhile, an impatient man behind her began honking his horn. Again and again, she tried to start her car, but with no luck. Now the man was honking more persistently. The woman had all she could take from him. So she got out of her car, walked back to the man, and said gently, "Sir, I’d be delighted to honk your horn for you if you would be kind enough to start my car for me" It's hard to say what impresses us most in that story, the irrationality of the man or the ingenuity of the woman.
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When we get angry, do we act irrationally, like the man, or calmly, like the woman? Wrongful anger never generates light, only heat.
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Back in the year 1497, the famous painter Leonardo da Vinci finished the mural of the famous Last Supper. A rumour surrounding the painting was that the same model was used for both Jesus and Judas. The rumour was that an innocent-looking young man, a baker, posed as Jesus. Some years later Leonardo discovered a hard-bitten criminal as the model for Judas, not realizing he was the same man. But that was just the rumour and there is no evidence that Leonardo used the same model for both figures and the story also overestimates the time it took Leonardo to finish the mural.

Whether rumour or otherwise, the reality of life often shows us that when the good become bad, they become the worst of all. That is also the what the 1st reading is saying.

The good people who have experienced love and goodness are committing a grave sin when they choose to do wrong. Because they sin against the love and goodness of God. It is also so drastic that all their earlier good deeds are wiped away.

It sounds shocking and "unjust" as the people would complain. But that is the serious consequence of sin isn't it? Good people should know what evil is, and they should know how disastrous the consequence of sin is. It can even distort the physical appearance of a person, as the rumour of the painting of the Last Supper goes. It is also a contradiction when we come before the altar of the Lord with sin in our hearts.

Jesus tells us in the gospel to be reconciled with God and with our neighbour first, if we really know what we are offering. Let not sin be hardened in our hearts but let love and forgiveness be shown on our faces. 

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LITURGY:

Introduction
Often we blame the community and “the system” for the evils of society and for the sins we commit. This shrugging off of responsibility is a timeless device of escape. Christ dealt with it and so did Ezekiel before him. Ezekiel tells us: you are personally responsible for your sins and you must repent; if so, God takes you back in his love. Jesus tells us: not the law but your personal attitude and intention counts. True worship does not consist in private, self-centred religious practice but in being committed to Christ’s task of reconciliation and service of people.

Penitential Rite:
-If the wicked man turns away from all the sins he committed, he shall surely live, he shall not die.
-None of the crimes he committed shall be remembered against him; he shall live because of the virtue he has practiced.
-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?

Opening Prayer
God of mercy and compassion, you challenge us to be responsible for the good and the evil we do and you call us to conversion. God, help us to face ourselves that we may not use flimsy excuses for covering up our wrongs. Make us honest with ourselves, and aware that we can always count on Jesus Christ to be our guide and strength on the road to you, now and for ever.

General Intercessions
– For the Church, that it may be a merciful Church that takes its task of reconciliation seriously and keeps forgiving its erring members with patience, we pray:
– For all of us, that we dare to take the first step to forgive when others have hurt us, we pray:
– For our communities, that the Eucharist may prompt us to forgive one another and to care for people who go astray, we pray:

Resentment and grudge-bearing is not for us Christians, however much we may have been hurt. We are forgiven people, and therefore we should be forgiving people.

Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar, and there recall that your brother has anything against you, leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift.

Prayer over the Gifts
Merciful Father, your Son Jesus comes among us to reconcile us with you. May he stay with us to carry out in the world your mission of reconciling people with you and with one another. Give us the courage of the humility to seek pardon and peace from anyone we may have offended, in the strength of Jesus Christ, your Son and our Lord for ever.
Prayer after Communion
Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, you ask us to be personally responsible for our own deeds and for our share in those of the community. May this Eucharistic celebration be a source of insight and strength to take up our tasks as followers of Jesus.  May our deeds match our words and may we thus express our thanks and love to you, through Jesus Christ our Lord.