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Catholic Daily Liturgical Guide 14.02.24

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Catholic Daily Liturgical Guide 14.02.24

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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.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM
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.

SECOND READING
“Be reconciled to God. Behold, now is the acceptable time.”
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.

VERSE BEFORE THE GOSPEL

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.

GOSPEL
“Your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”
MATTHEW 6: 1 – 6, 16 – 18

At that time: Jesus said to his disciples, “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people 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 to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving 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 others. Truly, I say to you, they have received 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 gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

The Gospel of the Lord
GOSPEL REFLECTION: Lent—Taking off the Mask
Wednesday, February 14, 2024
Ash Wednesday (Year B)

“When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do…
When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites…
When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites…” (Matthew 6:2, 5, 16)

Hypocrisy is an ugly sin. Essentially, being a hypocrite is being a fraud. The word itself comes from a Greek word referring to a mask that actors wear to depict their character. The person behind the mask would pretend that they were the person depicted by the mask. Therefore, a hypocrite is one who pretends to be who they are not.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus condemns those who give alms, pray and fast for the wrong reasons. Their almsgiving is not done out of charity and a desire to help, but out of an attempt to win the praise of others. They babble prayers on the street corner in an attempt to make others think they are holy. And when they fast, they make sure that their appearance looks “gloomy” so that others are impressed. Performing charitable works, praying and fasting are certainly good actions. But these actions must be authentic. Otherwise, they are not what they appear to be, and the one doing them is nothing other than an actor wearing a mask of virtue.

As we begin our Lenten season, we are each invited to take off the masks we wear so that the real person shines forth. We are especially called to combat any spiritual hypocrisy we struggle with for two important reasons. First, when people wear a mask of holiness, pretending to be more virtuous than they are, they sometimes end up even fooling themselves. Just as an actor may become so caught up in their character that they temporarily take on that character’s thoughts and feelings, so we also can become blinded by the truth of who we are when we habitually wear a mask of holiness. When that happens, we lose sight of who we are, where we need to grow, what we need to change and even what good there is within us. Lent is an important time for regaining authentic self knowledge so that we can grow in virtue.

It is also important to take off the mask so that others will benefit from our true selves. A person who pretends to be charitable, or pretends to pray, or pretends to be holy, cannot benefit others. God cannot authentically work through a hypocrite. Though the facade of holiness may seem appealing at first, the truth is that the real you, the authentic you, is the person that others want to know and will benefit from the most. Even your weaknesses and failures, when honestly faced, will become a source of strength and blessing for others.

Reflect, today, upon who you are. As your soul stands naked before the face of God, what does God see? Who are you? What masks do you wear? What is behind that mask? Use this Lent to look more deeply into your soul so that you will discover the person you are. Don’t be afraid to discover your sins and weaknesses. And don’t be afraid to see your authentic goodness. Seek to be real this Lent, and God will be able to shine more brightly through you.

PRAYER:
My authentic Lord, You wear no mask, have no facade. The purity of Your divine soul shone through Your human nature as You walked the Earth, and now You call me to share in that purity. Please help me to see the ways that I hide behind false virtue, so that I can discover my true self. As I do, please transform me and shine forth through my soul for all to see. Jesus, I trust in You.

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