3 April, Saturday — Constant conversion through God’s grace

Holy Saturday — Seventh Reading

Eze 36:16-17,18-28

You will live in the land I gave to your ancestors. You shall be my people and I will be your God.

When I read this passage from Ezekiel, it struck me as rather stern and remonstrating in tone, rather similar to the reading before it. Ezekiel was seeking to remind his people of their sinfulness and how they have strayed from God in their conduct and deeds. Nonetheless, God would save them – not because of their innate worthiness or anything that they had done – but by His holy name.

To be honest, this is not an image of our Father which I would happily think about, or feel encouraged by. But it does serve as a timely reminder of our flawed nature and need for constant conversion, perhaps especially relevant now, as we reach the end of Lent and all the ways we tried to prepare for Easter. I may not profane the Lord’s holy name the way the early Jews did (at least I hope I don’t!) but I am probably just as guilty whenever I give in to peer pressure to gossip, or leap to judge and criticise, or use the stress I face in the office to justify being curt and impatient. Conversely, sometimes I wonder if my colleagues and friends would know I am Catholic just from my ‘conduct and deeds’ alone, and feel slightly sobered at the thought that they might only associate me with going for mass and the occasional Bible class.

On a more comforting note, this reading is also an example of God’s immense, encompassing and overflowing grace, for it is indeed by His grace alone that we are saved – and continue to be saved. When reading the second part of the passage, I was struck by the extent to which our Father was willing to go to cleanse and renew us, and how it ends with the resounding declaration that we are His people. It reminds me of some recent homilies where the priests talked about how we ought not to forget that we, and everyone around us, are God’s children, and that He is always waiting and willing to give us a second/third/nth chance, as long we want to return to Him. These are wonderful truths I want to cherish but often overlook, amid my inclination towards pride and self-resilience. May they form part of the ‘new heart’ and the ‘new spirit’ that the Lord wants to give us this Easter.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Jaclyn Lam)

Prayer: Lord, we are sorry for the times we have taken You for granted and forgotten that we are Your children. Help us to remember your call to holiness.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord, for always being willing to save us and grant us the grace to start anew.


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