21But if the wicked man turns away from all the sins he has committed, if he keeps all my statutes and does what is just and right, he shall surely live. He shall not die! 22None of the crimes he has committed shall be remembered against him; he shall live because of the justice he has shown. 23j Do I find pleasure in the death of the wicked—oracle of the Lord GOD? Do I not rejoice when they turn from their evil way and live?
17* “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. 18Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law, until all things have taken place.m 19Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do so will be called least in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments will be called greatest in the kingdom of heaven.* 20I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter into the kingdom of heaven.
For all of those who think that the secular, relativistic life is the "one for me", you really need to re-consider that choice. When one considers all of this wonderful universe and how it's put together, I think that it's very difficult to not accept that a "higher power" is behind it all. Just look at all of the laws of physics that remain constant no matter what. Our scientists continually open our eyes to the wonderful world. How can it just be all a random act? Quite frankly, when I look up at the night sky, I am just plain awe struck at the immensity of it all, and marvel at the creation. I just know that some intelligent, much more that we, being is behind it all.
So, with all of these "natural laws" of the universe, that appear to remain so constant, how can one deny that our own creation, humankind itself, doesn't have some "moral code" written into our DNA. When you reflect on all of the history of the world and consider all of the laws written and promulgated over the centuries, similar laws continually are formed by whatever society it is, no matter the location, no matter the language, no matter the history. So, it seems reasonable, and even logical, that there are a set of "Natural Laws" which apply to humankind, just like those of the natural world. Laws (constants) which are inherently a part of our human condition.
Our Judeo-Christian tradition has conveyed these natural laws to us and we, at our own peril, turn our backs on them in these modern times. The passages quoted at the beginning provide some hope for those who choose to turn their back on these values. Although some will use Jesus' associations with the sinners of his day as justification for their actions, or misquote Pope Francis in his "Who am I to judge" comment in effort to show how the Church is coming around, everyone always forgets the important things that are being said way back then and now. Repent - change your ways. Ezekiel tells us that the wicked man repenting saves his soul. The first thing Jesus says as he starts his ministry is "Repent, the Kingdom of God is at hand." Pope Francis constantly refers to the need to repent.
So, as we travel through these days of reflection, one thing that all people need to be aware of is the need to reform their lives. Now all of those who have hitched their star to the financial industry, or to a power position, or to a philosophy of "what I want to do is OK" are the exact people who Ezekiel is talking about. The Matthew excerpt reminds us that the old laws are not changed, in fact the following passages reflect an even tougher standard for us to follow. That may be why so many have chosen to go a different direction.
But, the promise to us is that if we do repent from our wrong headed direction and choices, we will be rewarded grandly. How many people do you know who have a great bunch of money and are never satisfied? Or, who are very important in their positions and want more power? These are symptoms of wrong choices. None of that money or power or prestige goes with you when you die. You have to face our Maker and explain your choices. And, we know how much better we feel when we help someone else out.
So, no matter how successful we become in today's world, we need to remember that we are just a small cog in a very large universe and that we will be judged, not only by others, but by the Creator himself on how we care for those who are less fortunate. So, we might as well get to it!