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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 12:28-34): One of the scribes came to Jesus and asked him, "Which is the first of all the commandments?" Jesus replied, "The first is this: Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these." The scribe said to him, "Well said, teacher. You are right in saying, He is One and there is no other than he. And to love him with all your heart, with all your understanding, with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices." And when Jesus saw that he answered with understanding, he said to him, "You are not far from the Kingdom of God." And no one dared to ask him any more questions

“There is no other commandment greater than these.”

Fr. Pere MONTAGUT i Piquet (Barcelona, Spain)

Today, Lenten liturgy presents us Love as the deepest root of our self- communication with God: “The soul cannot live without love, but always wants to love something, because she is made of love, and, by love, I created her” (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: “you shall love the LORD, your God” (Deut 6:5) and another one from Leviticus: “You shall 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 mission asks for participation in its very nature, it is an intimacy into which we must enter. Jesus never claims to be the goal of our prayer and 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 Holy 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.

Thoughts on Today's Gospel

  • “The present days [of Lent] are especially suitable to practice the good of charity, so that those who want to undertake the Passover of the Lord with sanctification of soul and body should try to acquire this grace above all.” (Saint Leo the Great)

  • “Faith is giving space to this love of God; it is making room for the power, for the power of God, for the power of One who loves me, who is in love with me and who wants this joy with me. This is faith. This is believing: it is making room for the Lord to come and change me.” (Francis)

  • “… The apostle St. Paul reminds us of this: He who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. The commandments, 'You shall not commit adultery, You shall not kill, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,' and any other commandment, are summed up in this sentence, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” (Catechism Of The Catholic Church, Nº 2196)