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Monday – First Week – Lent
Readings: Lev 19:1-2, 11-18; Mt 25:31-46.
Reading 1 (Lev 19:1-2, 11-18):
The LORD said to Moses,
“Speak to the whole assembly of the children of Israel and tell them:
Be holy, for I, the LORD, your God, am holy.
“You shall not steal.
You shall not lie or speak falsely to one another.
You shall not swear falsely by my name,
thus profaning the name of your God.
I am the LORD.
“You shall not defraud or rob your neighbor.
You shall not withhold overnight the wages of your day laborer.
You shall not curse the deaf,
or put a stumbling block in front of the blind,
but you shall fear your God.
I am the LORD.
“You shall not act dishonestly in rendering judgment.
Show neither partiality to the weak nor deference to the mighty,
but judge your fellow men justly.
You shall not go about spreading slander among your kin;
nor shall you stand by idly when your neighbor’s life is at stake.
I am the LORD.
“You shall not bear hatred for your brother in your heart.
Though you may have to reprove him,
do not incur sin because of him.
Take no revenge and cherish no grudge against your fellow countrymen.
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
I am the LORD.”
Gospel (Mt 25:31-46):
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.
He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
Then the king will say to those on his right,
‘Come, you who are blessed by 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,
a stranger and you welcomed me,
naked and you clothed me,
ill and you cared for me,
in prison and you visited me.’
Then the righteous will answer him and say,
‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you,
or thirsty and give you drink?
When did we see you a stranger and welcome you,
or naked and clothe you?
When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’
And the king will say to them in reply,
‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did
for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’
Then he will say to those on his left,
‘Depart from me, you accursed,
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,
a stranger and you gave me no welcome,
naked and you gave me no clothing,
ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.’
Then they will answer and say,
‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty
or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison,
and not minister to your needs?’
He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you,
what you did not do for one of these least ones,
you did not do for me.’
And these will go off to eternal punishment,
but the righteous to eternal life.”
Written by Fr. Anthony Dinh M. Tien, O.P.
I. THEME: Love God and people is the standard God shall use to judge people.
People are anxious and worry before they go to courts because they don’t know what a judge shall base on to give his sentence. A Catholic faithful shouldn’t be so because he or she already knew the standard God shall use to judge them, that is, whatever they did to others, they did for God; and whatever they didn’t do to others, they didn’t do to God. St. Martin of Tours had this experience in his life on earth. When he met a beggar under a very cold night, he tried to find in his body anything he could give it to him. After he couldn’t find anything, he decided to take the sword and split his coat into two halves. He gave a half of his coat to the beggar and kept for him the other half. That very night, he saw Christ with his half of a coat appeared to him in a vision.
Today readings centered around two most important commandments: to love God and to love others. In the first reading, the author of Leviticus reminded people that they must be holy because God is holy. To be holy, they must practice the two commandments: to love God and others. In the Gospel, Jesus clearly announced the standard God shall use to judge people in the Last Judgment Day is to love people in deeds. Whatever they did to others, they did for God; whatever they didn’t do for others, they didn’t do for God.
1/ Reading I: To love God and people is the way to become holy.
1.1/ To become holy is everybody’s vocation: The Lord said to Moses, “Say to all the congregation of the people of Israel, You shall be holy; for I the Lord your God am holy.” Holiness is one of God’s attributes; sins and weaknesses aren’t in God. When God creates human beings, He wants them to become holy like Him; but sins take away people’ holiness. In the Old Testament, people tried to become holy by a careful observation of the law. In the Book of Leviticus and Deuteronomy, there are many laws that can help people to become holy. Besides God, there were many people who were called holy in the Old Testament: priests, Nazarites, prophets, first born and Levites.
1.2/ How can people be holy? As said above, the keeping of the law, especially two most important commandments: love God and others, shall help people to be holy. In opposition, the neglecting or the violating of the law shall defile people. In today passage, the author described what one must do and don’t to become holy.
(1) What one must not do: All of things, which were listed out today, were mentioned in the Ten Commandments. We can verify what the author said with the Ten Commandments.
– The second commandment: “And you shall not swear by my name falsely, and so profane the name of your God: I am the Lord.”
– The seventh commandment: Don’t steal. “You shall not oppress your neighbor or rob him. The wages of a hired servant shall not remain with you all night until the morning.”
– The eighth commandment: Don’t lie, don’t deceive others. “You shall do no injustice in judgment; you shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great, but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbor. You shall not go up and down as a slanderer among your people, and you shall not stand forth against the life of your neighbor.”
(2) What one must do: To simplify and to help people to easily practice them, Jesus abbreviated the Ten Commandments into two most important commandments:
– The first commandment: You shall fear your God: I am the Lord.
– The second commandment: You must love people as yourself. “You shall not curse the deaf or put a stumbling block before the blind… You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason with your neighbor, 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 neighbor as yourself.”
2/ Gospel: Love others is the standard God uses to judge people.
Most people believe in the cause-and-effect law: if we do good deed for others, we shall be rewarded both in this life and the life to come; but if we cause damages to people, we shall be punished both in the present and the next life. The Catholics strongly believe that, and chapter 25 of Matthew’s Gospel is the basis for this belief. Moreover, Jesus also emphasized: what we did for others, we did for him; and what we didn’t do for others, we didn’t do for him. This is God’s standard to judge people in the Last Judgment.
2.1/ What we do to others is to do for God.
(1) God’s judgment: 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.”
(2) The righteous’ question: “Lord, when did we see thee hungry and feed thee, or thirsty and give thee drink? And when did we see thee a stranger and welcome thee, or naked and clothe thee? And when did we see thee sick or in prison and visit thee?”
(3) God’s answer: “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.”
2.2/ What we refuse to do for others we refuse to do for God.
(1) God’s judgment: 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.”
(2) The wicked’ question: They also will answer, “Lord, when did we see thee hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to thee?”
(3) God’s answer: 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.”
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– Love God and others in deeds is the simple way to become holy.
– If we love others as ourselves and express this love in deeds, we don’t have to worry about the Last Judgment.
– The individualism and selfish lifestyle are the sure way to death, both in this life and the life to come.