Meditation for Saturday of the 1st Week of Lent


First Reading: Deuteronomy 26:16-19
Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 119:1-2, 4-5, 7-8
Gospel: Matthew 5:43-48
 
Today’s readings continue the theme from yesterday, but they extend it beyond merely if "your brother has anything against you".  Now the idea of observing God’s commandments is fully developed to the point of loving your enemies, and not just those who love you or just your brothers and sisters.  G. K. Chesterton had a good point about this very thing: "The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and also to love our enemies; probably because they are generally the same people." (Illustrated London News, 7/16/1910)
 
When God asks for observance with all your heart and all your soul, He is saying that no part of our hearts should be reserved for anger or resentment, but rather our entire heart should be dedicated to fulfilling the commandment to love our neighbor.  This is not call to be merciful, for we are not the chief ones offended by sin.  Rather, it is a call to justice, which we must learn (cf. Psalm 119:7b).  The reason it is justice is because our forgiveness of one another, even if an enemy, is based on equality – we are all children of God.  Even though we who claim to "walk in his ways and observe his statutes, commandments and decrees" (Deut. 26:17) are "peculiarly his own" (Deut. 26:18), if God is my Father, and God is my enemy’s father, that makes us brothers.  When God died on the Cross, according to the terms of His last Testament, that made us both co-heirs, and there will be no contesting of the Will of the One who is both benefactor and executor.
 
To summarize (again, using G.K. Chesterton’s words), "Love means loving the unlovable – or it is no virtue at all." (Heretics, 1905)
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