Tuesday, March 17, 2009

3rd Week of Lent: Wednesday (St Cyril of Jerusalem)

FIRST READING (Deuteronomy 4:1, 5-9)
Moses spoke to the people, saying: "And now, O Israel, give heed to the statutes and the ordinances which I teach you, and do them; that you may live, and go in and take possession of the land which the Lord, the God of your fathers, gives you.

"Behold, I have taught you statutes and ordinances, as the Lord my God commanded me, that you should do them in the land which you are entering to take possession of it. Keep them and do them; for that will be your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes, will say, `Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.'

"For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as the Lord our God is to us, whenever we call upon him? And what great nation is there, that has statutes and ordinances so righteous as all this law which I set before you this day?

"Only take heed, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things which your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life; make them known to your children and your children's children."

GOSPEL (Matthew 5:17-19)
Jesus said to his disciples, "Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfil them. For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished.

"Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven."

In today's Gospel we listen to the Lord saying:
"Do not think that I have come to remove the Law and the Prophets, but to fulfill them".

Jesus Speaks about the purpose of the law. He teaches us that the Old Testament is part of the Divine Revelation.

First, God made Himself known to men through the Prophets.

When Jesus spoke of Heaven and earth passing away, He did not mean a literal end of the universe. The Jewish listeners knew Jesus was referring to Isaiah, which is God's Promise to create a new Heaven and earth by sending the Messiah. They didn't know it yet, but the passing away of the old was going to happen when Jesus completely fulfilled the true meaning of the Law.

And just as a good Jew knew the Scriptures and put them into practice, we Christians should frequently meditate, if at all possible, every day, upon the Scriptures.

God wants from man a response of love, expressed upon the fulfillment of His Teachings: "If you love Me, keep My Commandments".

To keep God's Commandments means that we truly love Him through our deeds. Love is not only a feeling; love is also deeds, deeds of love, to live the double instruction of charity.

Jesus also teaches us the malice of scandal: "Whoever breaks the least important of these Commandments and teaches others to do the same will be the least in the Kingdom of Heaven". Because, as St. John says, "the man who says, 'I know Him' but does not do what He commands is a liar and the truth is not in him".

He shows us how important good examples may be, "whoever obeys God's Commands and teaches others to do the same will be great in the Kingdom of Heaven".

These thoughts are from Deacon Dennis Frazier.

For a reflection on St Cyril go HERE.

Lord, I believe in you: increase my faith. I trust in you: strengthen my trust. I love you: let me love you more and more. I am sorry for my sins: deepen my sorrow.

I worship you as my first beginning. I long for you as my last end. I praise you as my constant helper, and call on you as my loving protector.

Guide me by your wisdom, correct me with your justice, comfort me with your mercy, protect me with your power.

I offer you, Lord, my thoughts: to be fixed on you; my words: to have you for their theme; my actions: to reflect my love for you; my sufferings: to be endured for your greater glory.

I want to do what you ask of me: in the way that you ask, for as long as you ask, because you ask it.

Lord, enlighten my understanding, strengthen my will, purify my heart, and make me holy.

Help me to repent of my past sins, and to resist temptation in the future. Help me to rise above my human weakness and to grow stronger as a Christian.

Let me love you, my Lord and my God, and see myself as I really am: a pilgrim in this world, a Christian called to respect and love all whose lives I touch, those in authority over me or those under my authority, my friends and my enemies.

Help me to conquer anger by gentleness, greed by generosity, apathy by fervor. Help me to forget myself and reach out toward others.

Make me prudent in planning, courageous in taking risks. Make me patient in suffering, unassuming in prosperity.

Keep me, Lord, attentive in prayer, temperate in food and drink, diligent in my work, firm in my good intentions.

Let my conscience be clear, my conduct without fault, my speech blameless, my life well-ordered.

Put me on guard against my human weaknesses. Let me cherish your love for me, keep your law, and come at last to your salvation. Teach me to realize that this world is passing, that my true future is the happiness of heaven, that life on earth is short, and the life to come eternal.

Help me to prepare for death with a proper fear of judgment, but a greater trust in your goodness. Lead me safely through death to the endless joy of heaven. Grant this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Attributed to Pope Clement XI (1670-1676)


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