Saturday - Lent Time
1) Opening prayer
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.
2) Gospel Reading - Matthew 5, 43-48
43 'You have heard how it was
said, You will love your neighbour and hate your enemy. But I say this to you,
love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you; so that you may be
children of your Father in heaven, for he causes his sun to rise on the bad as
well as the good, and sends down rain to fall on the upright and the wicked
For if you love those who love
you, what reward will you get? Do not even the tax collectors do as much? And
if you save your greetings for your brothers, are you doing anything
Do not even the gentiles do as
much? You must therefore be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.'
In today’s Gospel we see how Jesus has interpreted the commandment: “You shall
not kill” in such a way that its observance may lead to the practice of love. Besides
saying “You shall not kill” (Mt 5, 21), Jesus quoted four other commandments of
the ancient law: you shall not commit adultery (Mt 5, 27), You shall not bear
false witness (Mt 5, 33), eye for eye, and tooth for tooth (Mt 5, 38) and, in
today’s Gospel: “You shall love your neighbour and will hate your enemy” (Mt 5,
43), five times, Jesus criticizes and completes the ancient way of observing
these commandments and indicates the new way to attain the objective of the
law, which is the practice of love (Mt 5, 22-26; 5, 28-32; 5, 34-37; 5, 39-42;
Love your enemies. In today’s Gospel Jesus quotes the ancient law which says:
“You will love your neighbour and hate your enemy”. This text is not found like
this in the Old Testament. It is rather a question of the mentality of the time,
according to which there was no problem in the fact that a person hated his
enemy. Jesus was not in agreement and says: “But I tell you : For if you
love those who love you, what reward will you get? Do not even the tax
collectors do as much? And if you save your greetings for your brothers, are
you doing anything exceptional? Do not even the gentiles do as much? You must,
therefore, set no bounds to your love, just as your heavenly Father sets none
to his”. And Jesus gives us the proof. At the hour of his death he observed
that which he preached.
• Father, forgive them, they do not know what they are doing. A soldier takes the
wrist of Jesus and places it on the arm of the cross, places a nail and begins
to hammer it in. Several times. The blood was flowing down. The body of Jesus
contorted with pain. The soldier, a mercenary, ignorant, far from knowing what
he was doing, and of what was happening around him, continued to hammer as if
it were a piece of the wall of his house and had to put up a picture. At that
moment Jesus prays for the soldier who tortures him and addresses his prayer to
the Father: “Father, forgive them! They know not what they are doing!” He loved
the soldier who killed him. Even wanting it with all their strength, the lack
of humanity did not succeed to kill in Jesus, humanity and love! He will
be imprisoned, they will spit on him, will laugh and make fun of him, they will
make of him a false king crowning him with a crown of thorns, will torture him,
will oblige him to go through the streets like a criminal, hearing the insults
of the religious authority, on Calvary they will leave him completely naked in
the sight of all. But the poison of the lack of humanity did not succeed to
attain the source of love and of humanity which sprang from within Jesus. The
water of the love which sprang from within was stronger than the poison of
hatred which was coming from without. Looking at that soldier, Jesus felt
sorrow and prayed for him and for all: “Father, forgive them! They know not
what they are doing!” Jesus, in solidarity, almost excuses those who were ill
treating and torturing him. He was like a brother who goes with his murder
brothers before the Judge and, he the victim of his own brothers, says to the
judge: “They are my brothers, you know they are ignorant. Forgive them! They
will become better!” He loved the enemy!
• Be perfect as perfect is your Father who is in Heaven. Jesus does not simply
want to frighten, because this would be useless. He wants to change the system
of human living together. The Novelty which he wants to construct comes from
the new experience which he has from God, the Father, full of tenderness who
accepts all! The words of threat against the rich cannot be an occasion of
revenge on the part of the poor. Jesus orders that we have the contrary
attitude: “Love your enemies!” True love cannot depend on what one receives
from others. Love should want the good of others independently of what they
does for me. Because this is the way God’s love is for us.
4) Personal questions
To love the enemies. Am I capable to love my enemies?
Contemplate Jesus, in silence who at the hour of his death, he loved the enemy
who killed him.
5) Concluding Prayer
How blessed are those whose way is
who walk in the Law of Yahweh!
are those who observe his instructions,
seek him with all their hearts (Ps 119,1-2)