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Lectionary 225, 226: Feb 23, 24, 2015

February 22, 2015

225.docx

Lectionary 225.  Scripture for Feb. 23: Leviticus 19:1-2, 11-18.  Psalm 19: 8-9. 10.15. Matthew 25: 31-46:

Lent is a time for focusing on the love-commandment of Jesus as well as the great commandment given in the first reading at the end of our passage.  The vivid description of what love consists in is given to us in the judgment passage of Matthew which is directed to us the faithful, and hopefully, some who are not faithful will also get its message.  We are the seekers and ambassadors for Christ in bringing about the news of the kingdom of God.  At the center of that news is the commandments of love in both testaments.  All are bound up with God-neighbor and self.  It is to be a sacred covenantal love that is anything but romantic.

Leviticus is summed up in its final sentence for us in the liturgy of the word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.  I am the Lord (Adonai = Yahweh)!”  Jesus is saying the same thing but spells it out in the corporal and spiritual works of mercy that show what love is all about: “I assure you, as often as you did it for one of my least brothers (and sisters), you did it for me.”  These love commands help us to turn to God (therefore a metanoia experience) when we listen to them and then carry them out in the acts of love and justice we practice each day.

God tells us “I AM WHO AM” (Yahweh or Adonai=Lord).  This revelation was given to Moses on the mountain named Sinai (or Horeb);  Jesus is for us both Son of Man (his humanity) and Son of God (his divinity) in Matthew’s narrative as well as in Mark’s whom Matthew follows very closely.  Jesus glorified is the judge of all humankind represented in the Gospel as the separation of sheep from goats depending on one’s observance of the commandments of love.  The Lord is the giver of these commandments which are founded on the love of God for the Son through the Holy Spirit.  What a respect for our dignity as humans that we are called to imitate that love of the Trinity!

As disciples of Jesus we are already called to witness and share that love with those who are not aware of it.  It is a summary of our life in union with God through love and respect for one another as humans.  If we wish to have the full background of these commandments of love we need to recall the Sermon on the Mount ( Matthew chapters 5-7) which is the blueprint for living out “AGAPE” love seen in Jesus action of preparing his disciples for such love by his washing of their feet (see chapter 13 of John’s Gospel).

Our Lent is the time to practice this love through the spiritual and corporal works of mercy.  We need not look far on go far to see our neighbors with whom we live and work.  Our Psalm gives us the prayer to understand why we do the commandments of love:  “Your words, Lord, are spirit and life…rejoicing the heart! (Psalm 19: 8-9 and John 6:63 for the Response). Amen.

 

 

226.docx

Lectionary 226. Scripture for February 24th.  Isaiah 55:10-11.  Psalm 34:4-5, 6-7, 16-17, 128-19.  Matthew 6:7-15:

Our readings for this Tuesday in Lent’s first full week are centered on the theme of prayer.  The content of all three readings are very consoling during this time of  fasting, generous giving, and intense interior prayer.

Isaiah’s passage is one of my favorite because of its beautiful and poetic imagery and thought.  It is worth repeating it here:

For just as from the heavens the rain and snow comes down

And do not return there till they have watered the earth, making it fertile and fruitful,

Giving seed to him who sows and bread to him who eats,

So shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth;

It shall not return to me void, but shall do my will, achieving the end for which I sent it.

These are comforting words of love and show the effectiveness of God’s love in the sharing of God’s word in the liturgy of the word and the sacrament of the Eucharist.

The Lord’s Prayer naturally follows after the Eucharistic Prayers and helps us be mindful of our covenant of love with God.  We learn from it how to pray in a simple and direct manner without a barrage of words but with sentiments coming from the Lord’s heart.  There are seven parts to it or petitions if you wish.  It is also our most cherished prayer as Christians along with the Hail Mary for us Catholics.  There are three early versions of it, but with Matthew’s more liturgical orientation and its fuller form it is the one we are accustomed to pray at the Divine Liturgy of the Hours and just before the Communion of the faithful at Mass.  Luke has an alternate version of the Our Father; it is also contained in the ancient document called the Didache or rhe Teaching of the Apostles.  Matthew wrote in 80 A.D., Luke in 85 A.D. and the Didache was written in 95 A.D.

I chose the last two parts of the prayer which focus more on the commandment of love that we heard yesterday.  It helps me to avoid the Evil One (the Devil) and his temptations to not forgive, to criticize my neighbor, to gossip, or to not be compassionate to all who come into my life. The additional words given in the Lord’s prayer both at Mass and then the addition to it here in the text of Matthew is supportive on the Our Father:  For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory… and in the Gospel:  If you forgive the faults of others, your heavenly Father will forgive you yours. If  you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive you.”  Amen.

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