JOEL 2: 12 – 18
“Even now,” says the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and tear your hearts and not your garments.” Return to the LORD, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in mercy, and repents of evil. Who knows whether he will not turn and repent, and leave a blessing behind him, a cereal offering and a drink offering for the Lord, your God? Blow the trumpet in Zion; sanctify a fast; call a solemn assembly; gather the people. Sanctify the congregation; assemble the elders; gather the children, even nursing infants. Let the bridegroom leave his room, and the bride her chamber. Between the vestibule and the altar let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep and say, “Spare your people, O Lord, and make not your heritage a reproach, a byword among the nations. Why should they say among the peoples, ‘Where is their God?”’ Then the Lord became jealous for his land, and had pity on his people.
The Word of the Lord.
Psalm 51: 3 – 6ab, 12 – 14, 17 (R.) 3a
R/. Have mercy, O Lord, for we have sinned.
Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your merciful love;
according to your great compassion,
blot out my transgressions.
Wash me completely from my iniquity,
And cleanse me from my sin. R/.
My transgressions, truly I know them;
my sin is always before me.
Against you, you alone, have I sinned;
what is evil in your sight I have done. R/.
Create a pure heart for me, O God;
Renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from your presence;
take not your holy spirit from me. R/.
Restore in me the joy of your salvation;
Sustain in me a willing spirit.
O Lord, open my lips
And my mouth shall proclaim your praise. R/.
2ND CORINTHIANS 5: 20 – 6: 2
Brethren: We are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. Working together with him, then, we entreat you not to accept the grace of God in vain. For he says, “At the acceptable time I have listened to you, and helped you on the day of salvation.” Behold, now is the acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.
The Word of the Lord.
Glory and praise to you, O Christ. Today, harden not your hearts, but listen to the voice of the Lord. Glory and praise to you, O Christ
MATTHEW 6: 1 – 6, 16 – 18
At that time: Jesus said to his disciples, “Beware of practicing your piety before men in order to be seen by them; for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. “Thus, when you give alms, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by men. Truly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. “And when you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by men but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”
The Gospel of the Lord.
REFLECTION: Being Set Free for Love
Wednesday, March 2, 2022
Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned. (see Psalm 51)
Mercy. That’s what it’s all about. As we begin Lent, a great place to start is with a better understanding of mercy.
Often when we think about Lent, we think of it with a sort of dread. “I have to give something up,” we often think. But if that is our thought, then we are missing the point. Do I “have to” give something up? Well, yes and no. It’s true that God wills this and has spoken this practice of self-denial and self-discipline to us through His Church. That is true. But it’s much more of an invitation to grace than the imposition of a burden.
Giving something up is really all about entering into God’s abundant mercy on a deeper level. It’s about being freed from all that binds us, and it helps us experience the new life we so deeply seek. Giving something up could refer to something as simple as fasting from a food or drink. Or, it can be any intentional act that requires a certain self-denial. But this is good! Why? Because it strengthens us in our spirit and our will. It strengthens us to be more resolved to say “Yes” to God on that complete level.
So often in life we are controlled by our emotions and desires. We have an impulse for this or that or to do this or that, and we often let those impulses or desires control us. Entering into a practice of self-denial helps strengthen us to control our disordered tendencies rather than being controlled by them. And this applies to much more than just food and drink. It applies to many things in life including our life of virtue, especially our charity.
Mercy is all about charity. It’s about love in the way God wants us to love. It’s about being free to let love consume us and take us over so that, in the end, all we want to do is love. This can be a hard practice to establish in our lives but is the source of our joy and fulfillment.
Mercy, in particular, is an act of love that, in a sense, is not deserved by another. It’s a free gift that is given purely from the motivation of love. And this is exactly the love God gives us. God’s love is all mercy. And if we want to receive that mercy, then we also have to give it. And if we want to give it, we need to properly dispose ourselves to giving mercy. This is accomplished, in part, by our little acts of self-denial.
So make this a great Lent, but don’t get stuck thinking that the Lenten sacrifices are burdensome. They are one essential piece of the pathway to the life God wants to bestow upon us.
My sacrificial Lord, may this Lent be truly fruitful in my life. May it be a grace and a joy to embrace all that You wish to bestow upon me. Jesus, I do trust in You.https://masvingomirror.com