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Catholic Daily Liturgical Guide 19.02.24

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Catholic Daily Liturgical Guide 19.02.24

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LEVITICUS 19: 1 – 2, 11 – 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 steal, nor deal falsely, nor lie to one another. And you shall not swear by my name falsely, and so profane the name of your God: I am the Lord. “You shall not oppress your neighbour or rob him. The wages of a hired servant shall not remain with you all night until the morning. You shall not curse the deaf or put a stumbling block before the blind, but you shall fear your God: I am the Lord. “You shall do no injustice in judgement; you shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great, but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbour. You shall not go up and down as a slanderer among your people, and you shall not stand forth against the life of your neighbour: I am the Lord. “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 19: 8, 9, 10, 15 (R.) John 6: 63c

R/. Your words, O Lord, are Spirit and life.

The law of the Lord is perfect;
it revives the soul.
The decrees of the Lord are steadfast;
they give wisdom to the simple. R/.

The precepts of the Lord are right;
they gladder the heart.
The command of the Lord is clear;
it gives light to the eyes. R/.

The fear of the Lord is pure,
abiding forever.
The judgements of the Lord are true;
they are, all of them, just. R/.

May the spoken words of my mouth,
the thoughts of my heart,
win favour in your sight, O Lord,
my rock and my redeemer! R/.

GOSPEL ACCLAMATION
2nd Corinthians 6: 2b

Glory and praise to you, O Christ.
Behold, now is the acceptable time, behold, now is the day of salvation.
Glory and praise to you, O Christ.

GOSPEL
“As you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.”
MATTHEW 25: 31 – 46

At that time: Jesus said to his disciples, “When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will place the sheep at his right hand, but the goats at the left. “Then the King will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, O blessed of my father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me. ’Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.’ “Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ “Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me. ’And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

The Gospel of the Lord.
GOSPEL REFLECTION: The Least Deserving
February 19, 2024

Jesus said to his disciples: “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, and all the nations will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.” (Matthew 25:31–32)

What an image to ponder! Try to imagine this scene. At one definitive moment in the future, the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity, now also in human form as the “Son of Man,” will return to earth in glory surrounded by all the angels of Heaven and will sit upon His new and glorious throne. In front of that throne, every person of every nation ever to exist will be gathered together, and each person will be judged according to their deeds. Those who served our Lord and treated the least of His brothers and sisters with mercy and compassion will hear Jesus say, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” Those who did not serve Christ and did not treat the least ones with mercy will be sent off to eternal punishment as Jesus says to them, “Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the Devil and his angels.” On that day, only one thing will matter, because eternity will be determined with permanence. All that will matter is whether you will be placed on our Lord’s right so as to inherit eternal life, or on His left and sent into the eternal fires.

Sometimes, as we journey through life, we can lose sight of this glorious day. When we think of God and Heaven, it is easy to fall into the presumption that Heaven is guaranteed to us. God is kind and merciful, and He loves us. Therefore, we presume that Heaven is for certain and only the most horrible people will end in hell. But this is not how Jesus depicts the Day of Judgment.

Jesus explains that at the time of judgment, the righteous will be astonished by the fact that caring for those who are hungry, thirsty, a stranger, naked, ill, or imprisoned was the same as showing love for God. Likewise, those who neglected the same people will be astonished that they failed to love God by failing to love the least of Jesus’ brothers and sisters. Do not take this teaching lightly. Jesus does not mince His words. He is abundantly clear and definitive.

In your life, who are these “least ones” of which Jesus is speaking? The hungry and thirsty are not only those with physical needs but also those who have spiritual longings that need to be satisfied. They are those lost or confused in life who need to be given direction. The stranger might be anyone who is lonely and easily ignored. The naked might be those who cannot manage to care for their needs. The ill could be those who are elderly or suffering in various ways. And the imprisoned could include those bound by sin who need help to be set free. Do not fail to seek out our Lord as He is present in those all around you.

Reflect, today, upon those in your life who seem most lost and most in need of your compassion. Those to whom we do not feel like reaching out are those who most often need our compassion and mercy. The “least ones” are often those we judge, condemn or ignore. Call to mind the person who seems least deserving of your love and know that Jesus is living within them, waiting for you to love Him by loving them.

PRAYER:
Most merciful Lord, Your compassion is great and Your judgment is real. Help me to always keep my mind upon that final and glorious day on which You will return in all Your splendor and glory to judge the living and the dead. May I truly heed Your words and prepare for that day by loving You in all people, especially in those most in need. Jesus, I trust in You.

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