Official Biblical, Liturgical, "Good News" readings.

March 24, 2017


Healing Our Defects

Reading 1 – HOS 14:2-10

Thus says the LORD:
Return, O Israel, to the LORD, your God;
you have collapsed through your guilt.
Take with you words,
and return to the LORD;
Say to him, “Forgive all iniquity,
and receive what is good, that we may render
as offerings the bullocks from our stalls.
Assyria will not save us,
nor shall we have horses to mount;
We shall say no more, ‘Our god,’
to the work of our hands;
for in you the orphan finds compassion.”

I will heal their defection, says the LORD,
I will love them freely;
for my wrath is turned away from them.
I will be like the dew for Israel:
he shall blossom like the lily;
He shall strike root like the Lebanon cedar,
and put forth his shoots.
His splendor shall be like the olive tree
and his fragrance like the Lebanon cedar.
Again they shall dwell in his shade
and raise grain;
They shall blossom like the vine,
and his fame shall be like the wine of Lebanon.

Ephraim! What more has he to do with idols?
I have humbled him, but I will prosper him.
“I am like a verdant cypress tree”–
Because of me you bear fruit!

Let him who is wise understand these things;
let him who is prudent know them.
Straight are the paths of the LORD,
in them the just walk,
but sinners stumble in them.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 81:6C-8A, 8BC-9, 10-11AB, 14 and 17

R. (see 11 and 9A) I am the Lord your God: hear my voice.
An unfamiliar speech I hear:
“I relieved his shoulder of the burden;
his hands were freed from the basket.
In distress you called, and I rescued you.”
R. I am the Lord your God: hear my voice.
“Unseen, I answered you in thunder;
I tested you at the waters of Meribah.
Hear, my people, and I will admonish you;
O Israel, will you not hear me?”
R. I am the Lord your God: hear my voice.
“There shall be no strange god among you
nor shall you worship any alien god.
I, the LORD, am your God
who led you forth from the land of Egypt.”
R. I am the Lord your God: hear my voice.
“If only my people would hear me,
and Israel walk in my ways,
I would feed them with the best of wheat,
and with honey from the rock I would fill them.”
R. I am the Lord your God: hear my voice.

Verse Before the Gospel – MT 4:17

Repent, says the Lord;
the Kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Gospel – MK 12:28-34

One of the scribes came to Jesus and asked him,
“Which is the first of all the commandments?”
Jesus replied, “The first is this:
Hear, O Israel!
The Lord our God is Lord alone!
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,
with all your soul,
with all your mind,
and with all your strength.

The second is this:
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
There is no other commandment greater than these.”
The scribe said to him, “Well said, teacher.
You are right in saying,
He is One and there is no other than he.
And to love him with all your heart,
with all your understanding,
with all your strength,
and to love your neighbor as yourself

is worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”
And when Jesus saw that he answered with understanding,
he said to him,
“You are not far from the Kingdom of God.”
And no one dared to ask him any more questions.

Reflection

Many among our readers who have had the blessing of raising children into adults for this aching society so in need of character and faith-filled people, have commented that they remember the first time their child attempted to lie to them. For some, it was a bit traumatic, for others humorous (really, Son?) and still for others, down right disappointing. For all of us who can at least understand this dynamic whether or not we have been parents, this is a spiritual insight into the heart of God who has not only created us out of love and for love but also continues to sustain our very being with His very thought.

“I will heal their defection, says the LORD, I will love them freely; for my wrath is turned away from them.” (First Reading)

Still, the experience of parenting, bringing as it does, great similarity to the “parenting” or shepherding that God provides for us, all issues forth a challenge for each one of us, especially in the Season of growth, purpose and peace:

“There shall be no strange god among you nor shall you worship any alien god. I, the LORD, am your God who led you forth from the land of Egypt.” (Responsorial Psalm)

Like with most sinful behavior between God and humanity, parent and child, friend to friend, there is always distance created and that separation actually causes more problems. And therein lies the remedy:

“And to love him with all your heart, with all your understanding, with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.” (Gospel)

We were born into this life with defects, and we will certainly leave with a handful of them as well. The issue here is this: how well will I manage them? How will I come closer to Jesus by accepting my own limitations and those of people around me? How will I use what God has given me in this life?

These are Lenten questions, no doubt. The answers we find will determine whether we experience the deep grace and love of the Lord or not.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could here Jesus say to us right now:

“You are not far from the Kingdom of God.”

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