Saturday of the First Week of Lent

Deuteronomy 26:16-19; Psalm 119; Matthew 5:43-48

A Magnanimous Father

Be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect. Matthew 5:48

If Jesus says this, it means our Father wants us to be perfect, invites us to be perfect as he himself is perfect, and makes it possible.

The bishops at the Second Vatican Council (1962–1965), knowing how Catholics think, called aiming at perfection a “must,” an obligation:

It is evident to everyone that all the faithful of Christ… are called to the fullness of the Christian life and to the perfection of love… Every Catholic must therefore aim at Christian perfection (see James 1:4; Romans 12:1-2)...

The Church no. 40; Ecumenism, no. 4.

But it is more than an obligation; it is a privilege and a promise, a proof of the Father’s love.

See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are… and if children, then heirs… joint heirs with Christ—if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him (1John 3:1; Romans 8:17).

Made perfect as the Father is perfect, glorified with Christ glorified! Truly “No eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the human heart conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him” (1Corinthians 2:9).

Our Father is magnanimous.

ACTION: Ask what steps you could take to move closer to the “perfection of love” for God and others. (Hint: Read Reaching Jesus: Five Steps To A Fuller Life:

PRAYER: “Lord, make me perfect as my Father is perfect.”

View Today's Readings Here

Friday of the First Week of Lent

Ezekiel 18:21-28; Psalm 130; Matthew 5:20-26

Our Father Is Fair

Is it my way that is unfair, or rather, are not your ways unfair? Ezekiel 18:25

We get angry with God. We blame him when things go wrong. He understands that. But today our Father asks us, are we really being fair?

God made people free; therefore, free to hurt others. So, ultimately, God is responsible when we do.

But what choice does he have? Free is free. If we are not free to do evil, we are not free. That would make God a liar.

Our Father sent Jesus, not to prevent, but to “take away the sins of the world.”

Our Father sent Jesus, not to take suffering out of the world, but to take it on himself. Jesus never promised his followers would not suffer; only that nothing would harm them.

They will put some of you to death. But not a hair of your head will perish! Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul… Whoever does not carry the cross cannot be my disciple… (Matthew 10:28; Luke 14:27, 21:16).

To “carry the cross” is to accept those consequences of the sin of the world that fall on our shoulders, and to make them redemptive by letting Jesus bear them with us.

ACTION: Ask how Jesus in you is responding to the Father through your greatest suffering.

PRAYER: “Father, if this cannot pass… your will be done” (Matthew 26:42).

View Today's Readings Here

Thursday of the First Week of Lent

Esther C 12:14-25; Psalm 138; Matthew 7:1-12

The Father Gives Jesus

Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. Matthew 10:22

When Peter recognized who Jesus was, Jesus told him the Father had revealed the truth to him. Peter’s faith in Jesus was a gift of the Father.

Most of us owe our faith to our fathers and mothers; at least, its beginnings. We should be grateful for the life-giving gift faith is, and for what it may have cost our parents to persevere in the faith themselves long enough to give it to us. We should also appreciate the Father for giving us the gift of being able to recognize his Son. The more we appreciate the gift Jesus is, the more we can appreciate the Father for giving him to us.

What did it cost the Father to give us Jesus?

First, he had to let his Son be made flesh. He knew Jesus would suffer rejection from the people to whom he preached—Jerusalem, Capernaum, even the people of his hometown (Matthew 11:23, 23:37; Luke 4:16)—and that finally he would die abandoned by all but a handful of his followers (Matthew 26:56; John 19:25). When we don’t understand why God lets some things happen—lets our children die, for example—we should remember he is the Father who for our sake let his own Son die on the cross.

Jesus is not a cheap gift.

ACTION: Whenever you express your faith, thank the Father for giving it to you.

PRAYER: “Father, thank you for your Son.”

View Today's Readings Here

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