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Saturday, first week of Lent

March 7, 2009

Blessed Sts. Perpetua & Felicity’s Day! (and Ember Saturday)

(Look for their story in the “saints of Lent” category)

Eternal Father, turn our hearts to You.
By seeking Your Kingdom and loving one another,
may we become a people who worship You
in spirit and truth.
Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ Your Son,
Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God for ever and ever. Amen

Readings:
Deuteronomy 26:16-19 (you have chosen God and He has chosen you, for holiness)
Psalm 119:1-8 “Blessed are they who follow the law of the Lord”
+Matthew 5:43-48 (love your enemies as God loves His)

We’re not supposed to be like everybody else.

By choosing us, by entering into a covenant bond with us, God calls us to be distinctively His own, to belong to Him, to be like Him. We are not our own (I Corinthians 6:19), nor do we belong to this world (John 15:19). We have been sanctified (I Corinthians 6:11), bought with a price (I Corinthians 7:23), set apart for the praise and glory of His holy Name (Deuteronomy 26:19).

To quote our priest, “That looks like something!”

In today’s Gospel, Jesus gives us a window into just what it looks like. “If you love those who love you, what merit is there in that? Don’t tax collectors do as much? And if you greet your brothers only, what is so praiseworthy about that? Do not pagans do as much?” (Matthew 5:46-47). Loving those who love us is good, but not distinctive. We have been given more. More is expected of us (see Luke 12:48).

“My command to you is: love your enemies, pray for your persecutors. This will prove that you are sons of your heavenly Father, for His sun rises on the bad and the good, He rains on the just and the unjust” (Matthew 5:44-45). Jesus further commands us, “Love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12). So how did He love us? By dying for us while we were still His enemies! (see Romans 5:8, 10)

This is taking yesterday’s teaching a step further. Not only are we to forgive and ask forgiveness, but we are to love and pray for those who harm us, whether they repent or not. This gets very practical. “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; by doing this you will heap burning coals upon his head and the Lord will vindicate you” (Proverbs 25:21, Romans 12:20). “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21).

Now that’s distinctive!

That’s the kind of love Jesus was referring to when He said, “By this shall all men know that you are My disciples: your love for one another” (John 13:35). It’s divine love, impossible for unaided human nature. “Apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). This is why we must be grafted into Jesus, the true vine, living the divine life that flows from Him into us through Baptism and the other Sacraments (see John 15:1-8). Then His love living in us sets us apart, shines before men, and inspires them to give praise to our heavenly Father (see Matthew 5:16).

O Sacred Heart of Jesus, make our hearts like unto Thine.

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