Scripture: 1st Reading: Deut26,16-19; Resp. Psalm: Ps119,1-2,4-5,7-8; Gosp. Accl.: 2Cor6,2; Gospel: Mt5,43-48
The word of God today directs our attention towards the law of God. It challenges us to one keep the law with all our heart and soul. The word commands us to observe the law of God with all our strength.
The allegiance of the believer to God must be absolute; that allegiance must be given to God and to Him alone. That allegiance involves walking in God's ways, keeping His statutes, commandments and ordinances and obeying His voice.
Moses told the people today as we read in the First Reading that when the people have Yahweh as their God, keep His commandments, obey His voice, Yahweh would take them for His possession, set them high above all nations and make them a people holy unto Him.
Obeying the voice of God, keeping His statutes, commands and ordinances therefore demonstrate that we belong to Him, that His mark is on us. Doing this, God puts an extraordinary protection over us, guides, guards and directs us. We become His people, the sheep of His flock.
The summary of the commandments and statutes of God is the one given to us by our Lord in today's gospel passage. In today's gospel, our Lord, going an extra mile than the Mosaic prescription to love the neighbour and hate the enemy, gave us an explicit command: "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven."
The reason why we should take this difficult and hard route was given to us by the Lord Himself: to love this way is to be like God who is impartial and non discriminatory in His love, who loves all, provides good things for everyone of His creatures, irrespective of who they are. We should love this way in imitation of our heavenly Father who "makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust."
Furthermore, we should love in this radical and supra-human way because the believer is called to a special vocation, a special way of life and conduct. The believers are called to distinguish their lives on the basis of their conduct. They are to be known by their fruits.
This is why the believer must never act the way the world acts. In the words of our Lord: "For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even tax collectors do the same? And if you salute only your brethren, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?" Our Lord here tells us clearly: the Christian life does not consist in living by the standards of the world.
Christian life therefore consists in living by the standards of Christ. This is why it is difficult to be true and authentic Christians. The standards are very high indeed. In the words of our Lord today, the Christian is called to be perfect like their Heavenly Father who is perfect.
This Lent, the word of God reminds us that we are called to live the life of God. We are called to perfection. We are invited to holiness of life. We do this when we strive daily to keep the commandments of God. Then we become a people holy to the Lord our God.
Let us pray: "Turn our hearts to you, eternal Father, and grant that, seeking always the one thing necessary and carrying out works of charity, we may be dedicated to your worship." Amen.
May the Living Word of God find a true dwelling place within our hearts and souls today and always.