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Sin and conversion begin from the heart

March 03, Friday of the First Week of Lent
Ezekiel 18: 21-28; Matthew 5:20-26

Real conversion begins from the heart. That is why Jesus says it is not enough that our ‘righteousness’ should depend only on following rules and regulations as taught by the scribes and the Pharisees.

We need to go deeper and examine every commandment, beginning from the interior motive. When Jesus cites the fifth commandment - ‘you shall not kill; whoever kills is liable to judgment’ – he insists on looking beyond the behavioral and legal aspect. He wants us to search our hearts. How much anger is brewing there? And how long have we been holding on to that anger?

This is the primary and foundational ground to scour because oftentimes it is from harboring the seeds of anger that we build up a warehouse of violent attitudes and behaviors which can sadly end up in murder. Murder then is something that begins in the heart, in the intertwined anger and negativities that run deep in the heart which, sooner or later, explode into violent action.

The act of liberation begins from us, from sincerely searching and liberating our hearts. And this is the second point of today’s gospel. Jesus says, “Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar, and there recall that your brother/sister has anything against you, leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother/sister, and then come and offer your gift.”

I asked myself, “Why should I be the first to make the move when it is the other person who has something against me?” Somehow, upon prolonged reflection on this enigmatic text, I realized that it is simply saying that I, who have realized the significance of the situation, am given the awareness and the freedom to make the first move. My brother or sister might not be ready yet, so it is up to me to change the course of things.

Interestingly, this text also implies that our act of worship – our relationship with God – finds its authentic expression only after we have settled ‘our accounts’ with our sisters and brothers.

We are after all, one family of God. To ask for reconciliation from our Father entails that we be reconciled first with one another: ‘Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.’ That attitude is ultimately the way of liberation from anger, and from the ensuing violent action.


Radio Veritas Asia (RVA), a media platform of the Catholic Church, aims to share Christ. RVA started in 1969 as a continental Catholic radio station to serve Asian countries in their respective local language, thus earning the tag “the Voice of Asian Christianity.”  Responding to the emerging context, RVA embraced media platforms to connect with the global Asian audience via its 21 language websites and various social media platforms.