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Contemplating today's Gospel

Today's Gospel + homily (in 300 words)

Friday 20th in Ordinary Time

1st Reading (Ezek 37:1-14): The hand of the Lord came upon me, and led me out in the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the center of the plain, which was now filled with bones. He made me walk among the bones in every direction so that I saw how many they were on the surface of the plain. How dry they were!

He asked me: «Son of man, can these bones come to life?». I answered, «Lord God, you alone know that». Then he said to me: «Prophesy over these bones, and say to them: Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! Thus says the Lord God to these bones: See! I will bring spirit into you, that you may come to life. I will put sinews upon you, make flesh grow over you, cover you with skin, and put spirit in you so that you may come to life and know that I am the Lord». I prophesied as I had been told, and even as I was prophesying I heard a noise; it was a rattling as the bones came together, bone joining bone. I saw the sinews and the flesh come upon them, and the skin cover them, but there was no spirit in them.

Then the Lord said to me: «Prophesy to the spirit, prophesy, son of man, and say to the spirit: Thus says the Lord God from the four winds come, o spirit, and breathe into these slain that they may come to life». I prophesied as he told me, and the spirit came into them; they came alive and stood upright, a vast army. Then he said to me: «Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They have been saying: Our bones are dried up, our hope is lost, and we are cut off. Therefore, prophesy and say to them: «Thus says the Lord God: O my people, I will open your graves and have you rise from them, and bring you back to the land of Israel. Then you shall know that I am the Lord, wen I open your graves and have you rise from them, o my people! I will put my spirit in you that you may live, and I will settle you upon your land; thus you shall know that I am the Lord. I have promised, and I will do it», says the Lord.
Responsorial Psalm: 106
R/. Give thanks to the Lord; his love is everlasting.
Let the redeemed of the Lord say, those whom he has redeemed from the hand of the foe and gathered from the lands, from the east and the west, from the north and the south.

They went astray in the desert wilderness; the way to an inhabited city they did not find. Hungry and thirsty, their life was wasting away within them.

They cried to the Lord in their distress; from their straits he rescued them. And he led them by a direct way to reach an inhabited city.

Let them give thanks to the Lord for his mercy and his wondrous deeds to the children of men, because he satisfied the longing soul and filled the hungry soul with good things.
Versicle before the Gospel (Ps 24:4b.5a): Alleluia. Teach me your paths, my God, guide me in your truth. Alleluia.
Gospel text (Mt 22,34-40): When the Pharisees heard how Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they came together. One of them, a teacher of the Law, tried to test him with this question, «Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the Law?». Jesus answered, «You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and the most important of the commandments. But after this there is another one very similar to it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole Law and the Prophets are founded on these two commandments».

«You shall love the Lord, your God... You shall love your neighbor as yourself»

Fr. Pere CALMELL i Turet (Barcelona, Spain)

Today, a teacher of the law ask Jesus «Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the Law?» (Mt 22:36), the most important one is the first commandment. The answer, however, speaks of a first commandment and of a second commandment, which «is very similar to it» (Mt 22:39). Two inseparable rings, which are the very same thing. Inseparable, but a first one and a second one, a golden one and a silver one. The Lord takes us to the depths of Christian catecheses, because «the whole Law and the Prophets are founded on these two commandments» (Mt 22:40).

This could explain the classic commentary of the two woods of the Lord's Cross: the upright beam stuck in the soil is the verticality, looking at heaven towards God. The crossbar represents the horizontality, the relations with our fellowmen. In this image there is also a first and a second. Horizontality would be at ground level if we should not have before stuck a vertical beam, so the more we desire to raise the level of our service to others —horizontality— the taller our love for God must go. Otherwise, dejection, fickleness, demanding compensations of any kind, will get easily hold of us. St. John of the Cross says: «The more a soul loves, the more perfect is in what it loves; this is why in this soul that is already perfect, is entirely love and all its actions are love».

The saints we know allow us to see how, in fact, their love for God is expressed in many different ways, and gives them a great amount of initiative when it comes to helping their fellowmen. Today, let us ask the Mother of God to fill us with the desire of surprising Our Lord with deeds and words of affection. Thus, our heart will be able to discover how to surprise with some nice little detail those who live and work next to us, and not only in their festivity, for that everybody knows how to do it. Surprise!: a practical way to think less about ourselves.

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