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Contemplating today's Gospel

Today's Gospel + homily (in 300 words)

Tuesday 2nd of Lent

1st Reading (Isa 1:10.16-20): Hear the word of the Lord, princes of Sodom! Listen to the instruction of our God, people of Gomorrah! «Wash yourselves clean! Put away your misdeeds from before my eyes; cease doing evil; learn to do good. Make justice your aim: redress the wronged, hear the orphan's plea, defend the widow. Come now, let us set things right, says the Lord: Though your sins be like scarlet, they may become white as snow; though they be crimson red, they may become white as wool. If you are willing, and obey, you shall eat the good things of the land. But if you refuse and resist, the sword shall consume you: for the mouth of the Lord has spoken!».
Responsorial Psalm: 49
R/. To the upright I will show the saving power of God.
Not for your sacrifices do I rebuke you, for your burnt offerings are before me always. I take from your house no bullock, no goats out of your fold.

Why do you recite my statutes, and profess my covenant with your mouth, though you hate discipline and cast my words behind you?

When you do these things, shall I be deaf to it? Or do you think that I am like yourself? I will correct you by drawing them up before your eyes. He that offers praise as a sacrifice glorifies me; and to him that goes the right way I will show the salvation of God.
Versicle before the Gospel (Ezek 18:31): Cast away from you all the crimes you have committed, says the Lord, and make for yourselves a new heart and a new spirit.
Gospel text (Mt 23,1-12): Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, «The teachers of the Law and the Pharisees sat on the seat of Moses. So you shall do and observe all they say, but do not do as they do, for they do not do what they say. They tie up heavy burdens and load them on the shoulders of the people, but they do not even raise a finger to move them. They do everything in order to be seen by people; so they wear very wide bands of the Law around their foreheads, and robes with large tassels. They enjoy the first place at feasts and reserved seats in the synagogues, and being greeted in the marketplace and being called "Master" by the people.

»But you, do not let yourselves be called Master because you have only one Master, and all of you are brothers and sisters. Neither should you call anyone on earth Father, because you have only one Father, He who is in heaven. Nor should you be called leader, because Christ is the only leader for you. Let the greatest among you be the servant of all. For whoever makes himself great shall be humbled, and whoever humbles himself shall be made great».

«You have only one Master, you have only one Father, Christ is the only leader for you»

Fr. Gerardo GÓMEZ (Merlo, Buenos Aires, Argentina)

Today, more than ever before, we have to work for our personal and collective salvation, as Saint Paul states, with regard and significance, for “on the day of salvation I helped you.” (2Co 6:2). Lent offers us a sacred chance, granted by our Father, so that with an attitude of profound conversion, we may invigorate our personal values, become conscious of our own blunders and repent from our sins, with the intention that our life becomes —through the action of the Holy Spirit— a fuller and riper life.

For our behavior to fit with that of our Lord Jesus, a gesture of humility is fundamental, as Pope Emeritus Benedict said: “I recognize myself for what I am, a frail creature, made from earth and destined to return to earth, yet also made in the image of God and destined for him”.

In Jesus’ times there were many “models” that prayed and behaved just to be seen, to be revered: vain people, cardboard characters, which could not stimulate either the growth or the development of their neighbors. Their attitude and behavior did not evidence the pathway to God: “but do not follow their example. For they preach but they do not practice.” (Mt 23:3).

Modern society also displays an infinite amount of behavior models that lead to a vertiginous and wild sort of life that weakens our awareness of transcendence. Let us not allow these fake referents to make us lose sight of the true Master: “You have but one teacher, you have but one Father, you have but one master, the Messiah” (Mt 23:8-9-10).

Let us, therefore, take advantage of Lent to invigorate our own convictions as Jesus’ disciples. Let us try to have some sacred moments, “moments in the desert”, when we may rediscover ourselves and we may meet the true Model and Master. And in front of those specific situations when we wonder how to react, let us ask ourselves: what would Jesus say? How would Jesus behave?

«Do not do as they do, for they do not do what they say»

Fr. Antoni CAROL i Hostench (Sant Cugat del Vallès, Barcelona, Spain)

Today, Jesus exhorts us to bear witness of our Christian life through our example, the consistency of our life and the honesty of our intentions. Our Lord says, when referring to the masters of the Law and to the Pharisees: «But do not do as they do, for they do not do what they say» (Mt 23:3). It is indeed a terrible charge!

We all have experience of so much evil and scandal —souls' disorientation— created by the antiwitness, i.e. bad examples. At the same time, we all remember the good we have experienced by the good deeds we have seen along our lives. Let's not forget the popular saying «an image is worth a thousand words». In short, «today, more than ever before, the Church will be credible with the testimony of works, rather than by its coherence and internal logic» (John Paul II).

And, an especially harmful example for Evangelization is the lack of coherence in life. An apostle of the third millennium, who feels he is called to saintliness in the midst of his temporary human affairs, must bear in mind that «only the relationship between a true statement consequent with itself and its fulfillment in life, may cause to shine the evidence of faith longed for by the human heart; only through this door [of coherence] will the Holy Spirit enter in the world» (Benedict XVI).

Finally, Jesus bewails of those who «do everything in order to be seen by people» (Mt 23:5). The authenticity of our life as Christ's apostles requires honesty in our intentions. We must behave, mostly, for the sake of our love for God and the glory of the Father. As we can read in the Catechism of the Church, «God created everything for man but man in turn was created to serve and love God and to offer all Creation back to Him». Here lies our greatness: to serve God as his sons!