FIRST READING (Deuteronomy 26:16-19)
Moses spoke to the people, saying: "This day the Lord your God commands you to do these statutes and ordinances; you shall therefore be careful to do them with all your heart and with all your soul. You have declared this day concerning the Lord that he is your God, and that you will walk in his ways, and keep his statutes and his commandments and his ordinances, and will obey his voice; and the Lord has declared this day concerning you that you are a people for his own possession, as he has promised you, and that you are to keep all his commandments, that he will set you high above all nations that he has made, in praise and in fame and in honour, and that you shall be a people holy to the Lord your God, as he has spoken."
GOSPEL (Matthew 5:43-48)
"You have heard that it was said, `You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
"For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?
"And if you salute only your brethren, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?
"You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect."
A GOOD STORY
The Sunday sermon was on "Forgive Your Enemies." The priest asked, "How many of you have forgiven your enemies?" About half the congregation held up their hands. He asked again, and about 80% put up their hands. The third time round, all hands were raised except for one elderly lady.
"Mrs Jones, I'm surprised at you. Why aren't you willing to forgive your enemies?"
"I don't have any" she responded.
"Are you sure, Mrs Jones? Said the priest. I find that very hard to believe! Please come to the front and explain to everyone how it is possible not to have an enemy in the world."
The little old lady tottered down the aisle, and said: "It's easy, Father. I'm ninety-three years old. I've outlived every single one of them!"
Hearts on fire with the Love of God
(Word of Life Community)
A godly homily for today
FURTHERMORE . . .
I remember when I was a little girl in Russia during Holy Week every member of my family - father, mother, and all the servants lined up and, beginning with father, bowed low before one another and said to each, "Forgive me for any hurt that I might have inflicted on you." And the answer from the other was, "May the Lord forgive you as I forgive you. Amen." So everyone asked forgiveness from one another, because without forgiveness, which is the greatest sign of love, how can one receive the God of love?
We hurt people, unwillingly and even unwittingly, by the weakness of our nature, so we need forgiveness from our brothers and sisters, and we need to forgive them as well. We cannot enter Holy Week unless we forgive totally, uncompromisingly, and completely. For before our eyes will soon be Jesus Christ himself, who will cry out from the height of the cross, "Father, forgive them."
Since we are baptized into the death and life of Jesus Christ, we should not allow the night to fall on our anger. We should beg forgiveness and forgive every day. Let us pray that we may forgive, because no one forgives these days, nationally and internationally speaking, and perhaps also personally. That is why we have the mess that we have.
Catherine Doherty in the Madonna House Staff Letter #59
(Reproduced in Grace in Every Season, page 97)
Lord, thou hast prepared a table for me
against them that trouble me.
Let that holy Sacrament of the Eucharist
be to me a defence and shield,
a nourishment and medicine, life and health,
a means of sanctification and spiritual growth;
that I, receiving the Body of my dearest Lord,
may be one with his mystical body,
and of the same Spirit,
united with indissoluble bonds of a strong faith,
and a holy hope,
and a never-failing charity,
that from this veil I may pass into the visions of eternal charity,
from eating thy Body to beholding thy face
in the glories of thy everlasting kingdom,
O blessed and eternal Jesus. Amen.
Bishop Jeremy Taylor (1613-1667)