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Tuesday, Third Week of Lent

December 14, 2004

Blessed St. John of the Cross’ Day! (look for his story in the “saints of Advent” category)

Zephaniah 3: 1-2, 9-13
Psalm 34: 2-3, 6-7, 17-19, 23 “The Lord hears the cry of the poor”
+ Matthew 21:28-32

Today’s readings speak of love of God too, but mostly by contrast. Zephaniah thunders God’s woes on rebellious Jerusalem, the city which has rejected God’s love. He promises that there will come a purification, when a holy remnant will take refuge in the Lord, bringing Him offerings and dwelling in peace. Since Jesus said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15), and, “If you keep My commandments you will abide in My love, as I also have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love” (John 15:10), this remnant who keep God’s commandments will abide in a relationship of love with God.

Jesus assures us that His holy remnant will include those who were not always so holy. He tells the story of two brothers, one of whom agreed to do his father’s will at first, but then failed to follow through. The other brother refused his father’s command, but later repented and obeyed. He was the one Jesus praised. This should be both a warning and a comfort for us. It’s a warning because it means we can’t rest on our laurels. It’s not over ‘till it’s over. It’s a comfort because it means that our past mistakes can’t disqualify us. What matters is that we end well.

May we neither presume upon God’s love, nor despair of it, choosing to put our love for Him into action through obedience.

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