Providing the Word of God.

March 11, 2017


Lenten Love

Reading 1 – DT 26:16-19

Moses spoke to the people, saying:
“This day the LORD, your God,
commands you to observe these statutes and decrees.
Be careful, then,
to observe them with all your heart and with all your soul.
Today you are making this agreement with the LORD:
he is to be your God and you are to walk in his ways
and observe his statutes, commandments and decrees,
and to hearken to his voice.
And today the LORD is making this agreement with you:
you are to be a people peculiarly his own, as he promised you;
and provided you keep all his commandments,
he will then raise you high in praise and renown and glory
above all other nations he has made,
and you will be a people sacred to the LORD, your God,
as he promised.”

Responsorial Psalm – PS 119:1-2, 4-5, 7-8

R. (1B) Blessed are they who follow the law of the Lord!
Blessed are they whose way is blameless,
who walk in the law of the LORD.
Blessed are they who observe his decrees,
who seek him with all their heart.
R. Blessed are they who follow the law of the Lord!
You have commanded that your precepts
be diligently kept.
Oh, that I might be firm in the ways
of keeping your statutes!
R. Blessed are they who follow the law of the Lord!
I will give you thanks with an upright heart,
when I have learned your just ordinances.
I will keep your statutes;
do not utterly forsake me.
R. Blessed are they who follow the law of the Lord!

Verse Before the Gospel – 2 COR 6:2B

Behold, now is a very acceptable time;
behold, now is the day of salvation.

Gospel – MT 5:43-48

Jesus said to his disciples:
“You have heard that it was said,
You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.
But I say to you, love your enemies,
and pray for those who persecute you,
that you may be children of your heavenly Father,
for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good,
and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.
For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have?
Do not the tax collectors do the same?
And if you greet your brothers and sisters only,
what is unusual about that?
Do not the pagans do the same?
So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Reflection

“Love is friendship that has caught fire. It is quiet understanding, mutual confidence, sharing and forgiving. It is loyalty through good and bad times. It settles for less than perfection and makes allowances for human weaknesses.” —Ann Landers

“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.” —Martin Luther King, Jr. 

“Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.” —Mother Teresa of Calcutta

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” —Jesus Christ, the Lord

The First and Second Readings make one thing very clear to all of us as we keep going through this mystical time of Lent: Love is the goal.

Now, what that does that mean? In a day and age where everything seems to take on some sexual overtone, it is good to be clear and honest when we say “love.” Moses began a great discussion for us today when he shouted out to the people, “And today the LORD is making this agreement with you: you are to be a people peculiarly his own, as he promised you…”  In other words, we might say, God wants us close to Him because He loves us so much. And we stay close to Him by listening closely and following Him even closer. This is the underlying purpose of the Law. It binds us together as a community while strengthening our mutual respect and by staying close to God we hopefully stay close to each other who are following the same Lord.

When Jesus announced that we are also to love our enemies, I am sure that drew a gasp from His first audiences. Unfortunately in a way for some, the English Language really doesn’t do Love any justice in the words that we have available to us to describe. The Greek Language, however, does go deeper: There are at least three different levels (and word) for Love. Quickly, for our purposes here, we will suffice to name 1. Eros, which could be describes as passion, attraction and simple. Then there is Filia, which is like or esteemed kind of friendship, for another person, or even for a hobby or for one’s neighbors. Then there is Agape which is the kind of love that surpasses all the others and says: “I love you so much that I will sacrifice for you wanting the best for you even if means doing without for me.” (must be careful here about promoting co-dependence)

If and when we begin to love our enemies, even appreciate them for their service to us, our love for our friends and families increases. And when that increases, our capacity to love God more and more also flourishes. This is the hope of Lent: that we become more loving people.

Our Father

The Fourth Petition: “Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread”

In the fourth petition, by saying “give us,” we express in communion with our brethren our filial trust in our heavenly Father. “Our daily bread” refers to the earthly nourishment necessary to everyone for subsistence, and also to the Bread of Life: the Word of God and the Body of Christ.  (CCC 2861)

 

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