1st Week of Lent, Saturday, Feb 27
Deut 26:16-19 / Matthew 5:43-48
Jesus teaches about love; "Pray for your Persecutors. "
A father and his son were traveling by bus. The father inadvertently violated a minor safety regulation. The bus driver went berserk. He verbally abused the father, humiliating him in front of his little son and the rest of the passengers.After it was all over, the boy said to his father, "Dad, you didn't have to take that. He was out of line." "Son," said the father, "that poor man has to put up with himself twenty-four hours a day. The least I can do is to put up with him for two minutes."
How do we respond when we are humiliated or treated rudely?
Lord, help us respond to verbal abuse not by becoming abusive ourselves, but by showing understanding, as you did.
The life of a pious Jew could be summed up as a response to God’s covenant of love with a covenant loyalty. This is also the life of a Christian, even more so: as God takes the initiative of offering his gratuitous love to his people and to each of us, so we try to give him a response of faithful love and offer to our neighbour a spontaneous, gratuitous love which comes from the depth of our being and commits us beyond the call of the law. Christian life is then communion with God, communion with people, even with enemies, for there should be no enemies for Christians.
People who are searching for a religion to adhere to may ask this question: How is Christianity different from the rest of the other religions? Well, of course there are many ways to answer that question. One answer could be this - Christianity doesn't just teach you to be good; Christianity teaches you to be like God!
That was what Jesus meant when He said: You must be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect. In other words, we must be holy, just as our heavenly Father is holy. We must be like God our Father, no less. To be like God means to do what Jesus did. And that is to love our enemies and to pray for those who persecute us. People might say that that is crazy, but that is what it means to be holy. So, can it be possible to be holy as God is holy?
As the 1st reading puts it, when we declare that God is our only God, then God will also make the declaration that we are His very own people. God will consecrate us with His love and we will be living images of His holiness in the world. So is the Lord God our only God? That is the question that we have to answer in the purifying season of Lent.
Lord God, from you comes the initiative of love. You seek us out and you tell us: “I am your God; you are my people.” You love us in Jesus Christ, your Son. God, may our response of love go far beyond the demands of any law. May we seek you and commune with you in the deepest of our being and may we express our gratitude to you by going to our neighbour with a love that is spontaneous like yours. We ask you this through Christ our Lord. Amen