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Liturgical day: Friday 20th in Ordinary Time

1st Reading (Ruth 1:1.3-6.14b-16.22): Once in the time of the judges there was a famine in the land; so a man from Bethlehem of Judah departed with his wife and two sons to reside on the plateau of Moab. Elimelech, the husband of Naomi, died, and she was left with her two sons, who married Moabite women, one named Orpah, the other Ruth. When they had lived there about ten years, both Mahlon and Chilion died also, and the woman was left with neither her two sons nor her husband.

She then made ready to go back from the plateau of Moab because word reached her there that the Lord had visited his people and given them food. Orpah kissed her mother-in-law good-bye, but Ruth stayed with her. Naomi said, «See now! Your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and her god. Go back after your sister-in-law!». But Ruth said, «Do not ask me to abandon or forsake you! For wherever you go, I will go, wherever you lodge I will lodge, your people shall be my people, and your God my God». Thus it was that Naomi returned with the Moabite daughter-in-law, Ruth, who accompanied her back from the plateau of Moab. They arrived in Bethlehem at the beginning of the barley harvest.
Responsorial Psalm: 145
R/. Praise the Lord, my soul!
Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord, his God, who made heaven and earth, the sea and all that is in them.

The Lord keeps faith forever, secures justice for the oppressed, gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets captives free.

The lord gives sight to the blind. The Lord raises up those who were bowed down; the Lord loves the just. The Lord protects strangers.

The fatherless and the widow he sustains, but the way of the wicked he thwarts. The Lord shall reign forever; your God, o Zion, through all generations.
Verscicle before the Gospel (Ps 24:4.5): 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.