Sunday February 23, 2020. Reading, Prayer of the Faithful and Reflection


Theme of the Sunday: Be as Your Father! It is important to link the gospel of today with the first reading which speaks of the need to be holy because God is holy. The book of Leviticus specifies the “holiness” that the Lord demands: not a show of religiosity, but love for one another. The gospel tells us that holiness consists in being like the Father . . . with all the practical consequences that flow from our being his children. The second reading replies to the objection, “But isn’t what Jesus proposes sheer madness?” Yes, it is foolishness for humans, but it is “wisdom” for God.

Entrance Antiphon
O Lord, I trust in your merciful love. Let my heart rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the Loan who has been bountiful with me

Grant, we pray,  almighty  God, that, always pondering spiritual things, we may carry out in both word and deed that which is pleasing to you. Through our Lord…

“You shall love your neighbour as yourself.”
A reading from the Book of Leviticus (Leviticus 19: 1-2.17—18)

The Lord said to Moses, “Say to all the congregation of the sons of Israel, you shall be holy; for I the Lord your God am holy. “You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason with your neighbour, lest you bear sin because of him. You shall not take vengeance or bear any grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbour as yourself: I am the Lord.”
The word of the Lord.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM   Psalm 103 : 1-2.3-4.8 and 10.12- 13 (R. 8a)
R/. The Lord is compassionate and gracious.

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and all within me, his holy name.
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and never forget all his benefits. R/.

It is the Lord who forgives all your sins,
who heals every one of your ills,
who redeems your life from the grave,
who crowns you with mercy and compassion. R/.

The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger and rich in mercy.
He does not treat us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our faults. R/.

As far as the east is from the west,
so far from us does he remove our transgressions.
As a father has compassion on his children,
the Lord’s compassion is on those who fear him. R/.

“All things are yours, and you are Christ’s,’ and Christ is God’s.”
A reading from the first Letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 3 :16-23)

Brethren: Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If any one destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and that temple you are. Let no one deceive himself. If any one among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their craftiness,” and again, “The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.” So let no one boast of men. For all things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future, all are yours; and you are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s.
The word of the Lord.

ALLELUIA 1 John 2:5
Alleluia. Whoever keeps Christ’s word, in him truly love for God is perfected. Alleluia.

“Love your enemies.”
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Matthew (Matthew 5 :38-48)

At that time: Jesus said to his disciples, “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, do not resist one who is evil. But if any one strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also; and if any one would sue you and take your coat, let him have your cloak as well; and if any one forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to him who begs from you, and do not refuse him who would borrow from you. “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.”
The Gospel of the Lord.

Today’s Reflection
To love someone who expressly wishes bad things come upon us, who plots against our welfare, our good name, our success, is indeed hard. Yet, that exactly is what Jesus demands of us today. In his words: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. Naturally, we tend to resent those who do wrong to us. Jesus does not say we should like it. No! Instead, our response should not be motivated by an urge to strike back or repay. Put differently, it is not retaliation and revenge that have place in our Christian calling but love and forgiveness. Jesus wants us to do more than the pagans do, as children of God our goal is to like God the father in his self-effacing love.

This obligation is so defining of our identity as Christians that we cannot say we are true Christians if we fail at this. Thus, as Christians we cannot say so and so is my enemy or I hate so and so. This nonetheless, does not stop people from making us their enemy or hating us. That, sadly, is not in our power. What we must do is, pray for them. Yes, through prayer we will find the strength to love them.

Prayer of the Faithful

The Lord God is present in the midst of this holy assembly. Let us call to the Lord in prayer:

For the Church and parish community, that the Spirit of God may dwell within our common life of prayer and works of charity: let us pray to the Lord.

For Pope, Bishop, Father, and for all who serve the Church, that they may be prophets of the wisdom and compassion of God: let us pray to the Lord.

For President, Governor, and for the leaders of the world’s nations, states, and cities, that a realization of the holiness of every human person may guide their work for their people: lets us pray to the Lord.

For those who fight against racism, oppression, and social injustice, that their courageous witness may inspire all of us to work for justice and peace: let us pray to the Lord.

For those from whom we are separated or alienated, for those who we have forgotten or ignored, that God will grant us the grace to take the first step toward reconciliation with them: let us pray to the Lord.

For those who have died in the peace of Christ, that the eternal life of God may be theirs: let us pray to the Lord.

For the prayers we now make in the silence of our hearts

Lord God, Father of us all, hear the prayers we make to you for every member of the human family. Open our hearts to your Spirit that we may seek an end to bitterness and discord, so that we might become your holy people, a community of light and peace. We ask this through Christ our Lord.


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