But now, apart from law, the righteousness of God has been disclosed, and is attested by the law and the prophets, the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction, since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; they are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a sacrifice of atonement by his blood, effective through faith. He did this to show his righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over the sins previously committed; it was to prove at the present time that he himself is righteous and that he justifies the one who has faith in Jesus.
Then what becomes of boasting? It is excluded. By what law? By that of works? No, but by the law of faith. For we hold that a person is justified by faith apart from works prescribed by the law. Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, since God is one; and he will justify the circumcised on the ground of faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith.
Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord.
Lord, hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive
to the voice of my supplications!
If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities,
Lord, who could stand?
But there is forgiveness with you,
so that you may be revered.
I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
and in his word I hope;
my soul waits for the Lord
more than those who watch for the morning.
The Lord said:
Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets whom your ancestors killed. So you are witnesses and approve of the deeds of your ancestors; for they killed them, and you build their tombs. Therefore also the Wisdom of God said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and persecute,’ so that this generation may be charged with the blood of all the prophets shed since the foundation of the world, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who perished between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, it will be charged against this generation. Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge; you did not enter yourselves, and you hindered those who were entering.”
When he went outside, the scribes and the Pharisees began to be very hostile toward him and to cross-examine him about many things, lying in wait for him, to catch him in something he might say.
When we do something wrong, or when we hurt someone, it is only natural to want to make amends. We want to make up for the wrong, erase it, make it as though it had never happened. The only problem is, we have no power to do so. When we sin, we cannot erase the records of our sins. When we hurt someone, we cannot undo the hurt that we caused. All we can do in any case is ask for forgiveness and then change ourselves for the better. In the Christian walk, we acknowledge this by turning to God in his mercy. We ask for forgiveness, and then we pray for the grace to change our ways. We cannot change our past, but we ask for help for the future. Through the cross, God takes the burden of our sin. But the burden of our future lies with us.
Forgiveness and change are hard things. Taking personal responsibility for something we cannot fix and that someone else must pay for feels harder on the surface than paying for it ourselves. This is the position the Pharisees find themselves in. They find it easier to build monuments to the martyred prophets than to follow their teachings or change their ways. They went immediately from being convicted about the persecution of the prophets to seeking out ways to persecute Jesus and catch him in some way that they could hold against him. Because they did not acknowledge their own wrongdoing, they did not repent, and they did not resolve to change for the future, they are repeating the same sinful behavior that lead to the death of the prophets. It actually turns out the closest we can get to making amends for our wrongdoing is amending ourselves.
What are the things you wish you could make amends for? What are the burdens you want to lay down? All have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God. There is no sin that cannot be forgiven except your unforgiveness of yourself. So today, let’s amend ourselves. Let’s lay down our burdens and lay ourselves down at God’s feet. His mercy is there for us whenever we call upon him. With his grace, we can change our behaviors and avoid the sins that have entrapped us before. Let us ask today for God’s mercy on our pasts and grace for our futures.