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Contemplating today's Gospel

Today's Gospel + homily (in 300 words)

Friday of the Third Week of Lent

1st Reading (Hos 14:2-10): Thus says the Lord: «Return, o Israel, to the Lord, your God; you have collapsed through your guilt. Take with you words, and return to the Lord. Say to him, Forgive all iniquity, and receive what is good, that we may render as offerings the bullocks from our stalls. Assyria will not save us, nor shall we have horses to mount. We shall say no more, ‘Our god’, to the work of our hands; for in you the orphan finds compassion».

»I will heal their defection», says the Lord, «I will love them freely; for my wrath is turned away from them. I will be like the dew for Israel: he shall blossom like the lily; he shall strike root like the Lebanon cedar, and put forth his shoots. His splendor shall be like the olive tree and his fragrance like the Lebanon cedar. Again they shall dwell in his shade and raise grain; they shall blossom like the vine, and his fame shall be like the wine of Lebanon. Ephraim! What more has he to do with idols? I have humbled him, but I will prosper him. I am like a verdant cypress tree, because of me you bear fruit!

»Let him who is wise understand these things; let him who is prudent know them. Straight are the paths of the Lord, in them the just walk, but sinners stumble in them».

Responsorial Psalm: 80
R/. I am the Lord your God: hear my voice.
«I relieved his shoulder of the burden; his hands were freed from the basket. In distress you called, and I rescued you».

«Unseen, I answered you in thunder; I tested you at the waters of Meribah. Hear, my people, and I will admonish you; o Israel, will you not hear me?».

«There shall be no strange god among you nor shall you worship any alien god. I, the Lord, am your God who led you forth from the land of Egypt».

«If only my people would hear me, and Israel walk in my ways, I would feed them with the best of wheat, and with honey from the rock I would fill them».
Versicle before the Gospel (Mt 4:17): Repent, says the Lord; the Kingdom of heaven is at hand.
Gospel text (Mk 12,28b-34): A teacher of the Law came up and asked to Jesus, «Which commandment is the first of all?». Jesus answered, «The first is: ‘Hear, Israel! The Lord, our God, is One Lord; and you shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength’. And after this comes another one: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’. There is no commandment greater than these two».

The teacher of the Law said to him, «Well spoken, Master; you are right when you say that he is one and there is no other. To love him with all our heart, with all our understanding and with all our strength, and to love our neighbor as ourselves is more important than any burnt offering or sacrifice». Jesus approved this answer and said, «You are not far from the kingdom of God». But after that, no one dared to ask him any more questions.

«There is no commandment greater than these two»

Fr. Pere MONTAGUT i Piquet (Barcelona, Spain)

Today, Lenten liturgy presents us Love as the deepest root of our self- communication with God: «Our soul cannot live without love, it always wants to love something, for our soul is made of love, as I made it because of love» (Saint Catherine of Siena). God is almighty love, extreme love, crucified love: «It is there [on the Cross] that this truth can be contemplated» (Benedict XVI). This Gospel is not only a confirmation of the prayer the pious Jew used to say every morning, but it is also a self revelation as to how God —through his Son— wants to be loved. With a Commandment from Deuteronomy: «Love the Lord your God» (Deut 6:5) and another one from Leviticus: «Love your neighbor as yourself» (Lv 19:18), Jesus enforces the plenitude of the Law. He loves the Father, as a true God born out of a real God and, as the Word made Flesh, He creates the new Mankind of the sons of God, brothers loving each other with the love of the Son.

Jesus' call to communion and to the mission requires our participation in its very same nature; it is a closeness where to get ourselves in. Jesus does not vindicate him as the milestone of our prayer and of our love. He thanks the Father and constantly lives in his presence. The mystery of Christ attracts us towards the love for God, invisible and inaccessible, while —at the same time— it shows us the way to identify our sincerity in our love and life for our visible and present brother. The burnt offerings in the altar are not the most valued ones, but Christ burning as the unique sacrifice and offering, so that we may become in Him a single altar, a single love.

This unity of knowledge and love woven by the Saint Spirit allows God to love through us and to use all our capacities, while allowing us to be able to love as Christ does, with the same filial and fraternal love. What God united in love, man cannot sever. This is the greatness of he who submits to the Kingdom of God: self love is no longer an obstacle but rapture to love the one and only God and a crowd of brothers.