Daily Readings

  Friday (February 19):  Do not be angry, be reconciled

Gospel Reading:  Matthew 5:20-26

20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 21 "You have heard that it was said to the men of old, `You shall not kill; and whoever kills shall be liable to judgment.' 22 But I say to you that every one who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother shall be liable to the council, and whoever says, `You fool!' shall be liable to the hell of  fire. 23 So if you are offering your gift at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. 25 Make friends quickly with your accuser, while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison; 26 truly, I say to you, you will never get out till you have paid the last penny.

Old Testament Reading: Ezekiel 18:21-28

21 "But if a wicked man turns away from all his sins which he has committed and keeps all my statutes and does what is lawful and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die. 22 None of the transgressions which he has committed shall be remembered against him; for the righteousness which he has done he shall live.23 Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, says the Lord GOD, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live? 24 But when a righteous man turns away from his righteousness and commits iniquity and does the same abominable things that the wicked man does, shall he live? None of the righteous deeds which he has done shall be remembered; for the treachery of which he is guilty and the sin he has committed, he shall die. 25 "Yet you say, `The way of the Lord is not just.' Hear now, O house of Israel: Is my way not just? Is it not your ways that are not just? 26 When a righteous man turns away from his righteousness and commits iniquity, he shall die for it; for the iniquity which he has committed he shall die. 27 Again, when a wicked man turns away from the wickedness he has committed and does what is lawful and right, he shall save his life. 28 Because he considered and turned away from all the transgressions which he had committed, he shall surely live, he shall not die.

Meditation: Do you allow sin or anger to master your life? The first person to hate his brother was Cain. God warned Cain: 'Why are you angry? ..Sin in couching at the door; it's desire is for you, but you must master it (Genesis 4:6-7). Sin doesn't just happen; it first grows as a seed in one's heart. Unless it is mastered, by God's grace, it grows like a weed and chokes the life out of us. Jesus addressed the issue of keeping the commandments with his disciples. The scribes and Pharisees equated righteousness with satisfying the demands of the law. Jesus showed them how short they had come. Jesus points to the heart as the seat of desire, choice, and intention. Unless forbidden and evil desires are uprooted and cut-out, the heart will be poisoned and the body become a slave to sin and passion. Jesus illustrates his point with the example of the commandment to not kill. Murder first starts in the heart as the seed of forbidden anger that grows within until it springs into words and actions against one's brother or neighbor. This is a selfish anger that broods and is long-lived, that nurses a grudge and keeps wrath warm, and that refuses to die. Anger in the heart as well as anger in speech or action are equally forbidden. The Lord Jesus commands by grace - take away the anger in your heart and there will be no murder.

What is the antidote for overcoming anger and rage? Mercy, forbearance, and kindness spring from a heart full of love and forgiveness. God has forgiven us and he calls us to extend mercy and forgiveness towards those who cause us grief or harm. In the cross of Jesus we see the supreme example of love and the power for overcoming evil. Only God's love and grace can set our hearts and minds free from the tyranny of wounded pride and spiteful revenge. Do you harbor any anger towards another person? And are you quick to be reconciled when a rupture has been caused in your relationships? Ask God to set you free and to fill your heart and mind with his love and truth.

Eusebius, a 3rd century church father, offered the following prayer as instruction for his fellow Christians:

"May I be no man's enemy, and may I be the friend of that which is eternal and abides. May I never quarrel with those nearest me: and if I do, may I be reconciled quickly. May I love, seek, and attain only that which is good. May I wish for all men's happiness and envy none. May I never rejoice in the ill-fortune of one who has wronged me. When I have done or said what is wrong, may I never wait for the rebuke of others, but always rebuke myself until I make amends. May I win no victory that harms either me or my opponent. May I reconcile friends who are angry with one another. May I never fail a friend who is in danger. When visiting those in grief may I be able by gentle and healing words to soften their pain. May I respect myself. May I always keep tame that which rages within me. May I accustom myself to be gentle, and never be angry with people because of circumstances. May I never discuss who is wicked and what wicked things he has done, but know good men and follow in their footsteps."

Do you seek to live peaceably and charitably with all?

"Lord Jesus, my heart is cold. Make it warm, compassionate, and forgiving towards all, even those who do me harm. May I only think and say what is pleasing to you and be of kind service to all I meet."

Psalm 130:1-8

1 Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD!
2 Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications!
3 If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities, Lord, who could stand?
4 But there is forgiveness with you, that you may be feared.
5 I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope;
6 my soul waits for the LORD more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning.
7 O Israel, hope in the LORD! For with the LORD there is steadfast love, and with him is plenteous redemption.
8 And he will redeem Israel from all his iniquities.

A Daily Quote for Lent: Are you ashamed to ask pardon? by Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, 354-430 A.D.

"How many there are who know that they have sinned against their brothers or sisters and yet are unwilling to say: 'Forgive me.' They were not ashamed to sin, but they are ashamed to ask pardon. They were not ashamed of their evil act, but they blush where humility is concerned." (excerpt from Sermon 211,4)

Meditations may be freely reprinted for non-commercial use - please cite: 
copyright (c) 2016 Servants of the Word, source:  www.dailyscripture.net, author This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Scripture quotations from Common Bible: Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 1973, and Ignatius Edition of the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 2006, by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.  Citation references for quotes from the writings of the early church fathers can be found here.

 

 


 Daily Reading & Meditation
Ash Wednesday (February 10):  When you pray, fast, and give alms

Gospel Reading:  Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18

1 "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. 2 "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 received their reward. 3 But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your alms may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. 5 "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 received  their reward. 6 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. 16 "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 received their reward. 17 But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18 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.

Old Testament Reading: Joel 2:12-18

12 "Yet even now," says the LORD, "return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; 13 and rend your hearts and not your garments." Return to the LORD, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and repents of evil. 14 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? 15 Blow the trumpet in Zion; sanctify a fast;  call a solemn assembly; 16 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. 17 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?'" 18 Then the LORD became jealous for his land, and had pity on his people.

Meditation: Are you hungry for God and do you thirst for his holiness? God wants to set our hearts ablaze with the fire of his Holy Spirit that we may share in his holiness and radiate the joy of the gospel to those around us. St. Augustine of Hippo tells us that there are two kinds of people and two kinds of love: "One is holy, the other is selfish. One is subject to God; the other endeavors to equal Him." We are what we love. God wants to free our hearts from all that would keep us captive to selfishness and sin. "Rend your hearts and not your garments" says the prophet Joel (Joel 2:12). The Holy Spirit is ever ready to transform our hearts and to lead us further in God's way of truth and holiness.

Why did Jesus single out prayer, fasting, and almsgiving for his disciples? The Jews considered these three as the cardinal works of the religious life. These were seen as the key signs of a pious person, the three great pillars on which the good life was based. Jesus pointed to the heart of the matter. Why do you pray, fast, and give alms? To draw attention to yourself so that others may notice and think highly of you? Or to give glory to God? The Lord warns his disciples of self-seeking glory - the preoccupation with looking good and seeking praise from others. True piety is something more than feeling good or looking holy. True piety is loving devotion to God. It is an attitude of awe, reverence, worship and obedience. It is a gift and working of the Holy Spirit that enables us to devote our lives to God with a holy desire to please him in all things (Isaiah 11:1-2).

What is the sure reward which Jesus points out to his disciples? It is communion with God our Father. In him alone we find the fulness of life, happiness, and truth. May the prayer of Augustine of Hippo, recorded in his Confessions, be our prayer this Lent: When I am completely united to you, there will be no more sorrows or trials; entirely full of you, my life will be complete. The Lord wants to renew us each day and give us new hearts of love and compassion. Do you want to grow in your love for God and for your neighbor? Seek him expectantly in prayer, with fasting, and in generous giving to those in need.

The forty days of Lent is the annual retreat of the people of God in imitation of Jesus' forty days in the wilderness. Forty is a significant number in the scriptures. Moses went to the mountain to seek the face of God for forty days in prayer and fasting. The people of Israel were in the wilderness for forty years in preparation for their entry into the promised land.  Elijah fasted for forty days as he journeyed in the wilderness to the mountain of God. We are called to journey with the Lord in a special season of prayer, fasting, almsgiving, and penitence as we prepare to celebrate the feast of Easter, the Christian Passover. The Lord gives us spiritual food and supernatural strength to seek his face and to prepare ourselves for spiritual combat and testing. We, too, must follow in the way of the cross in order to share in the victory of Christ's death and resurrection. As we begin this holy season of testing and preparation, let's ask the Lord for a fresh outpouring of his Holy Spirit that we may grow in faith, hope, and love and embrace his will more fully in our lives.

"Lord Jesus, give me a lively faith, a firm hope, a fervent charity, and a great love of you. Take from me all lukewarmness in the meditation of your word, and dullness in prayer. Give me fervor and delight in thinking of you and your grace, and fill me with compassion for others, especially those in need, that I may respond with generosity."

Psalm 51:3-6,12-4,17

3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.
4 Against you, you only, have I sinned, and done that which is evil in your sight, so that you are justified in your sentence and blameless in your judgment.
5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.
6 Behold, you desire truth in the inward being; therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.
13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you.
14 Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, O God of my salvation, and my tongue will sing aloud of your deliverance.
17 The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

A Daily Quote for Lent:  Lent - the epitome of our whole life, by Augustine of Hippo, 354-430 AD

"Christians must always live in this way, without any wish to come down from their cross - otherwise they will sink beneath the world's mire. But if we have to do so all our lives, we must make an even greater effort during the days of Lent. It is not a simple matter of living through forty days. Lent is the epitome of our whole life." (excerpt from Sermon 205, 1)
Meditations may be freely reprinted for non-commercial use - please cite:
copyright (c) 2016 Servants of the Word, source:  www.dailyscripture.net, author Don Schwager

Scripture quotations from Common Bible: Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 1973, and Ignatius Edition of the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 2006, by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.  Citation references for quotes from the writings of the early church fathers can be found here.

Reading 1, Isaiah 35:4-7

 

4 and say to the faint-hearted, 'Be strong! Do not be afraid. Here is your God, vengeance is coming, divine retribution; he is coming to save you.'

5 Then the eyes of the blind will be opened, the ears of the deaf unsealed,

6 then the lame will leap like a deer and the tongue of the dumb sing for joy; for water will gush in thedesert and streams in the wastelands,

7 the parched ground will become a marsh and the thirsty land springs of water; the lairs where the jackals used to live will become plots of reed and papyrus.

 


Responsorial Psalm, Psalms 146:7, 8-9, 9-10

 

7 gives justice to the oppressed, gives food to the hungry; Yahweh sets prisoners free.

8 Yahweh gives sight to the blind, lifts up those who are bowed down.

9 Yahweh protects the stranger, he sustains the orphan and the widow. Yahweh loves the upright,but he frustrates the wicked.

10 Yahweh reigns for ever, your God, Zion, from age to age.

Reading 2, James 2:1-5

 

1 My brothers, do not let class distinction enter into your faith in Jesus Christ, our glorified Lord.

2 Now suppose a man comes into your synagogue, well-dressed and with a gold ring on, and at the sametime a poor man comes in, in shabby clothes,

3 and you take notice of the well-dressed man, and say, 'Come this way to the best seats'; then you tell the poor man, 'Stand over there' or 'You can sit on the floor by my foot-rest.'

4 In making this distinction among yourselves have you not used a corrupt standard?

 

5 Listen, my dear brothers: it was those who were poor according to the world that God chose, to be rich in faith and to be the heirs to the kingdom which he promised to those who love him.

 


Gospel, Mark 7:31-37

 

31 Returning from the territory of Tyre, he went by way of Sidon towards the Lake of Galilee, right through the Decapolis territory.

32 And they brought him a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech; and they asked him to lay his hand on him.

33 He took him aside to be by themselves, away from the crowd, put his fingers into the man's ears and touched his tongue with spittle.

34 Then looking up to heaven he sighed; and he said to him, 'Ephphatha,' that is, 'Be opened.'

35 And his ears were opened, and at once the impediment of his tongue was loosened and he spoke clearly.

36 And Jesus ordered them to tell no one about it, but the more he insisted, the more widely they proclaimed it.

37 Their admiration was unbounded, and they said, 'Everything he does is good, he makes the deaf hear and the dumb speak.'

 


 

Reading 1, Colossians 1:24--2:3

 

24 It makes me happy to be suffering for you now, and in my own body to make up all the hardships that still have to be undergone by Christ for the sake of his body, the Church,

25 of which I was made a servant with the responsibility towards you that God gave to me, that of completing God's message,

26 the message which was a mystery hidden for generations and centuries and has now been revealed to his holy people.

27 It was God's purpose to reveal to them how rich is the glory of this mystery among the gentiles; it is Christ among you, your hope of glory:

28 this is the Christ we are proclaiming, admonishing and instructing everyone in all wisdom, to make everyone perfect in Christ.

29 And it is for this reason that I labour, striving with his energy which works in me mightily.

1 I want you to know, then, what a struggle I am having on your behalf and on behalf of those in Laodicea, and on behalf of so many others who have never seen me face to face.

2 It is all to bind them together in love and to encourage their resolution until they are rich in the assurance of their complete understanding and have knowledge of the mystery of God

3 in which all the jewels of wisdom and knowledge are hidden.

 


Responsorial Psalm, Psalms 62:6-7, 9

 

6 He alone is my rock, my safety, my stronghold, so that I stand unwavering.

7 In God is my safety and my glory, the rock of my strength. In God is my refuge;

9 Ordinary people are a mere puff of wind, important people a delusion; set both on the scales together, and they are lighter than a puff of wind.

 


Gospel, Luke 6:6-11

 

6 Now on another Sabbath he went into the synagogue and began to teach, and a man was present, and his right hand was withered.

7 The scribes and the Pharisees were watching him to see if he would cure somebody on the Sabbath, hoping to find something to charge him with.

8 But he knew their thoughts; and he said to the man with the withered hand, 'Get up and stand out in the middle!' And he came forward and stood there.

9 Then Jesus said to them, 'I put it to you: is it permitted on the Sabbath to do good, or to do evil; to save life, or to destroy it?'

10 Then he looked round at them all and said to the man, 'Stretch out your hand.' He did so, and his hand was restored.

 

11 But they were furious and began to discuss the best way of dealing with Jesus.

Reading 1, Colossians 1:15-20

 

15 He is the image of the unseen God, the first-born of all creation,

16 for in him were created all things in heaven and on earth: everything visible and everything invisible, thrones, ruling forces, sovereignties, powers -- all things were created through him and for him.

17 He exists before all things and in him all things hold together,

18 and he is the Head of the Body, that is, the Church. He is the Beginning, the first-born from the dead, so that he should be supreme in every way;

19 because God wanted all fullness to be found in him

20 and through him to reconcile all things to him, everything in heaven and everything on earth, by making peace through his death on the cross.

 


Responsorial Psalm, Psalms 100:1, 2, 3, 4, 5

 

1 [Psalm For thanksgiving] Acclaim Yahweh, all the earth,

2 serve Yahweh with gladness, come into his presence with songs of joy!

3 Be sure that Yahweh is God, he made us, we belong to him, his people, the flock of his sheepfold.

4 Come within his gates giving thanks, to his courts singing praise, give thanks to him and bless his name!

5 For Yahweh is good, his faithful love is everlasting, his constancy from age to age.

 


Gospel, Luke 5:33-39

 

33 They then said to him, 'John's disciples are always fasting and saying prayers, and the disciples of the Pharisees, too, but yours go on eating and drinking.'

34 Jesus replied, 'Surely you cannot make the bridegroom's attendants fast while the bridegroom is still with them?

35 But the time will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them; then, in those days, they willfast.'

36 He also told them a parable, 'No one tears a piece from a new cloak to put it on an old cloak; otherwise, not only will the new one be torn, but the piece taken from the new will not match the old.

37 'And nobody puts new wine in old wineskins; otherwise, the new wine will burst the skins and run to waste, and the skins will be ruined.

38 No; new wine must be put in fresh skins.

39 And nobody who has been drinking old wine wants new. "The old is good," he says.'