A Lenten Word: Ezekiel 18:23

In our series on Reconciliation readings, we looked at today’s Bible passage here and here in a larger context, verses 20 through 32. In the Liturgy of the Hours, Psalms are primary, and readings outside of the Office of Readings are more like a bit of icing on a richer, more lyrical pastry.

Just one verse today:

Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, says the Lord God, and not rather that they should turn from their ways and live? (NRSV)

Is it a rhetorical question? The prophet emphasizes that God’s first, and deepest desire is that a person forsakes evil and turns to good. Given the ample, often gleeful commentary about a certain right wing figure of the mainstream media, this struck me today. Would we really hope that the man had a deathbed experience? Or would we really rejoice in the suffering element of the afterlife?

I’ve seen Scripture quoted on both sides of the issue. A proverb or two advise us to rejoice in the downfall of evil persons. The prophetic tradition, however, is more than a sound bite.  You want to delve deeper into wishing someone was dead and tormented in hell? You’re going to have to read a lot more than one verse. But this one may well be a start.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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