It is our own lives, not those of our parents, that will save or damn us.

Jesus tells us to settle with our opponent while we are still on the way. That could mean while we are still alive. If we do not settle we will be thrown into prison, and not released until we have paid the last penny. That seems to be a reference to spending time in Purgatory for sins we haven’t atoned for before death.

The first reading from Ezekiel is meant to correct a false impression given by the account of the first two commandments in Chapter Twenty of Exodus. It says there that God would inflict punishment for the sins of their fathers on children down to the fourth generation; that he would bestow mercy down to the fourth generation of those who love him.

That reading of Exodus had given rise to the popular saying, “The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the teeth of their children are set on edge.” That saying has a sting to it if you have ever eaten sour grapes, then felt your teeth feel all fuzzy and painful.

But, Ezekiel tells the people to do away with that saying. The truth of the matter is that no matter how bad your parents have been, if you love God he will love you back. No matter how wonderful your parents were, if you are bad you will pay for it. 

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