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If you, O Lord, mark my iniquities, who can stand? — Psalm 130:3
Mass readings: Ezekiel 18:21-28 / Matthew 5:20-26
Ezekiel says the wicked man who turns from his sins will preserve his life. This reminds me of a fable I used to tell my students about never despairing, even in the face of dreadful mistakes. Two brothers, sheep thieves, were apprehended and punished by having their foreheads branded with S.T. to warn locals of their stealing ways. Humiliated, one brother left the country and died an early death; the second stayed, hoping to make restitution. For years he chopped and delivered firewood to the poverty-stricken. He grew old but persisted in charity. One day, young boys saw him struggling under a load and wondered the meaning of the letters on his forehead. “They must stand for saint,” they concluded, “He’s always giving.”
The sheep thief, turned saint, preserved his life and regained his dignity.
Prayer: Lord, save us from pride when we’re humiliated; teach us humility when we go astray.
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