Why wouldn’t we take pleasure in the death of the wicked, or in the downfall of our enemies? Because death and downfall means more than just the ceasing of wrongdoing. Yes, the wrong action may be stopped, but we are talking about persons — persons made in the image and likeness of God. We are really talking about the death and downfall of one who bears the God-image. God takes no pleasure in this, for that would be taking pleasure that a part of Himself has died.
Today in Ezekiel we hear how the Lord delights and rejoices when a sinner repents. When we turn away from our sins we are turning to God, to goodness. We are turning to life — to God’s eternal life.
How do we know what is evil? Again, bearing the God-image and having been created good, we can naturally know what is good. But there is also the moral law that has been fully revealed and fulfilled in Jesus and subsequently through the Church. The psalmist prays today, If you, O Lord, mark iniquities, who can stand? (Ps. 130:3). It is God who teaches us in our hearts and through His revealed divine law what is good and what is wrong. We cannot determine that for ourselves; we can choose to follow or not. It is true that sin corrupts our thinking and darkens our intellects, which is why God is always calling us to repent. Repentance brings life to the soul and therefore renewal to the mind.
Jesus fulfills the law of God in the Gospel by internalizing it. He calls us to renew our minds through repentance. It is not enough to do good deeds on the outside, or to preach the law of God. He wants the law to be in our hearts. When we are angry with another person, we need to do our best to connect with them. True love of another is to seek what is best for them, to seek their true good. In a practical application, a loving boundary can be agreed upon internally — one that acknowledges the anger inside and respects the dignity of the other. The love of God will then have a channel to flow from our hearts to others, bringing God’s life to all of His people, even those with whom we disagree.