In the previous post on this passage, we looked at verses 20 through 24. Ezekiel laid the groundwork for the more well-known portion of this passage, emphasizing what a believer does in her or his final reckoning of life. That is what is important to God, not how a majority of a life was spent. Not how the parents lived and sinned. Sound unfair that lifelong criminals get a reprieve? You are not alone.
You say, “The LORD’s way is not fair!”
Hear now, house of Israel:
Is it my way that is unfair?
Are not your ways unfair?
When the just turn away from justice to do evil and die,
on account of the evil they did they must die.
But if the wicked turn from the wickedness
they did and do what is right and just,
they save their lives;
since they turned away from all the sins they committed,
they shall live;
they shall not die.
But the house of Israel says,
“The Lord’s way is not fair!”
Is it my way that is not fair, house of Israel?
Is it not your ways that are not fair?
Therefore I will judge you, house of Israel,
all of you according to your ways,
says the Lord GOD.
Turn, turn back from all your crimes,
that they may not be a cause of sin for you ever again.
Cast away from you
all the crimes you have committed,
and make for yourselves
a new heart and a new spirit.
Why should you die, house of Israel?
For I find no pleasure
in the death of anyone who dies,
says the Lord GOD.
Turn back and live!
The hang-up for Ezekiel’s listeners was two-fold. First, that children are not condemned for the sins of their ancestors. Most all of us get that. Harder to perceive is that forgiven sin does not accumulate as debt. Maybe if we thought about that a bit more, we might see that as a good deal.
The entire thirteen verses may be too long for Penance form I. May be. These last verses, 25-32 seem sufficient for a good reflection in a communal liturgy. “New heart and a new spirit certainly resonate with Lent and the Easter Vigil.