Let this people know that you, O Lord, are God, and that you have turned their hearts back.
A reading from the first Book of Kings (1 Kings 18:20-39)
In those days: King Ahab sent to all the people of Israel, and gathered the prophets of Baal together at Mount Carmel. And Elijah came near to all the people, and said, “How long will you go limping with two different opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.” And the people did not answer him a word. Then Elijah said to the people, “I, even I only, am left a prophet of the Lord; but Baal’s prophets are four hundred and fifty men. Let two bulls be given to us; and let them choose one bull for themselves, and cut it in pieces and lay it on the wood, but put no fire to it; and I will prepare the other bull and lay it on the wood, and put no fire to it. And you call on the name of your god and I will call on the name of the Lord; and the God who answers by fire, he is God.” And all the people answered, “It is well spoken.” Then Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “Choose for yourselves one bull and prepare it first, for you are many; and call on the name of your god, but put no fire to it.” And they took the bull which was given them, and they prepared it, and called on the name of Baal from morning until noon, saying, “O Baal, answer us!” But there was no voice, and no one answered. And they limped about the altar which they had made. And at noon Elijah mocked them, saying, “Cry aloud, for he is a god; either he is musing, or he has gone aside, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened.” And they cried aloud, and cut themselves after their custom with swords and lances, until the blood gushed out upon them. And as midday passed, they raved on until the time of the offering of the oblation, but there was no voice; no one answered, no one heeded. Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come near to me”; and all the people came near to him. And he repaired the altar of the Lord that had been thrown down; Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the word of the LORD came, saying, “Israel shall be your name”; and with the stones he built an altar in the name of the Lord. And he made a trench about the altar, as great as would contain two measures of seed. And he put the wood in order, and cut the bull in pieces and laid it on the wood. And he said, “Fill four jars with water, and pour it on the burnt offering and on the wood.” And he said, “Do it a second time”; and they did it a second time. And he said, “Do it a third time”; and they did it a third time. And the water ran round about the altar, and filled the trench also with water. And at the time of the offering of the oblation, Elijah the prophet came near and said, “O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel, and that I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at your word. Answer me, O Lord, answer me, that this people may know that you, O Lord, are God, and that you have turned their hearts back.” Then the fire of the Lord fell, and consumed the burnt offering, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, “The Lord, he is God; the Lord, he is God.”
The word of the Lord
RESPONSORIAL PSALM Psalm 16: 1 -2a.4.5 and 8.11 (R. 1)
R/. Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge
Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge.
I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord.” R/.
Those who choose other gods increase their sorrows.
I will not take part in their offerings of blood.
Nor will I taka their names upon my lips. R/.
R/. Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge.
O Lord, it is you who are my portion and cup;
you yourself who secure my lot.
I keep the Lord before me always;
with him at my right hand,
I shall not be moved. R/.
You will show me the path of life,
the fullness of joy in your presence,
at your right hand, bliss forever. R/.
ALLELUIA Psalm 25:4b.5a
Alleluia. Teach me your paths, O Lord. Guide me in your truth. Alleluia.
I have come not to abolish the law, but to fulfil it.
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Matthew (Matthew 5: 17-19)
At that time: Jesus said to his disciples, “Do not think 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.”
The Gospel of the Lord.
Laws are there to instill and promote order and discipline in society. A responsible and committed adherence to the law guarantees peace, order and justice in society. In today’s gospel Jesus tells us that he has come not to abolish the law but to fulfil it. For Jesus, a law is made in order to help people become more free and purposeful. He vehemently questions those who follow the letter of the law and conveniently forget its spirit. For the scribes and Pharisees of Jesus’ time, the law was a means to subjugate and persecute people by extracting from them maximum observance of the letter of the law. For Jesus the observance of the law meant freedom, discipline and a better life culminating in love.