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Contemplating today's Gospel

Today's Gospel + homily (in 300 words)

Saturday of the First Week of Lent
1st Reading (Deut 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: 118
R/. 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.

You have commanded that your precepts be diligently kept. Oh, that I might be firm in the ways of keeping your statutes!

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.
Versicle before the Gospel (2Cor 6:2): Behold, now is a very acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.
Gospel text (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 only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same? So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect."

“Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you”

Fr. Joan COSTA i Bou (Barcelona, Spain)

Today's Gospel exhorts us to the most perfect love. Love wants to do well to others, and here lies our personal fulfillment. We do not love for our own sake, but for the sake of doing well to our neighbor and in doing it we improve as persons. The II Vatican Council said: “man cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of himself.” That’s what Saint Therese of the Infant Jesus meant when speaking about “making an holocaust of our life.” Love is a human vocation; our whole behavior, to be truly human, has to be the expression of the reality of our being while fulfilling our vocation for love. Saint John Paul II wrote: “Man cannot live without love. He remains a being that is incomprehensible for himself, his life is senseless, if love is not revealed to him, if he does not experience it and make it his own, if he does not participate intimately in it.”

Love has its foundation and reaches its highest form in God's love in Christ. We are invited to a dialogue with God. We exist for the love of God, Who created us, and for the love of God which keeps us, “for man would not exist were he not created by God's love and constantly preserved by it; and he cannot live fully according to truth unless he freely acknowledges that love and devotes himself to His Creator” (II Vatican Council); this is the most important reason of its dignity. In other words, human love must remain under the custody of Divine Love, which is where it comes from, where it finds its reflection and brings it to its fullest. This is why, love, when truly human, loves with God's heart and can even embrace its foe. Otherwise, one does not truly love. To such an extent that the exigency of our giving ourselves sincerely, becomes a divine precept: “So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Mt 5:48).

Thoughts on Today's Gospel

  • “O my Lord, how good You are.” (Saint Teresa of Jesus)

  • “Loving our enemies, those who persecute us and cause us suffering, is difficult and neither is it a “good deal” because it drains us. Yet, this is the path pointed out and taken by Jesus for our salvation.” (Francis)

  • “Christ died out of love for us, while we were still enemies. The Lord asks us to love as he does, even our enemies, to make ourselves the neighbor of those farthest away, and to love children and the poor as Christ himself.” (Catechism Of The Catholic Church, Nº 1825)