Thứ Ba, 28 tháng 2, 2017

MARCH 01, 2017 : ASH WEDNESDAY

Ash Wednesday
Lectionary: 219

Reading 1JL 2:12-18
Even now, says the LORD,
return to me with your whole heart,
with fasting, and weeping, and mourning;
Rend your hearts, not your garments,
and return to the LORD, your God.
For gracious and merciful is he,
slow to anger, rich in kindness,
and relenting in punishment.
Perhaps he will again relent
and leave behind him a blessing,
Offerings and libations
for the LORD, your God.

Blow the trumpet in Zion!
proclaim a fast,
call an assembly;
Gather the people,
notify the congregation;
Assemble the elders,
gather the children
and the infants at the breast;
Let the bridegroom quit his room
and the bride her chamber.
Between the porch and the altar
let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep,
And say, "Spare, O LORD, your people,
and make not your heritage a reproach,
with the nations ruling over them!
Why should they say among the peoples,
'Where is their God?'"

Then the LORD was stirred to concern for his land
and took pity on his people.

R. (see 3a) Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.
Have mercy on me, O God, in your goodness;
in the greatness of your compassion wipe out my offense.
Thoroughly wash me from my guilt
and of my sin cleanse me.
R. Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.
For I acknowledge my offense,
and my sin is before me always:
"Against you only have I sinned,
and done what is evil in your sight."
R. Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.
A clean heart create for me, O God,
and a steadfast spirit renew within me.
Cast me not out from your presence,
and your Holy Spirit take not from me.
R. Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.
Give me back the joy of your salvation,
and a willing spirit sustain in me.
O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth shall proclaim your praise.
R. Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.

Brothers and sisters:
We are ambassadors for Christ,
as if God were appealing through us.
We implore you on behalf of Christ,
be reconciled to God.
For our sake he made him to be sin who did not know sin, 
so that we might become the righteousness of God in him.

Working together, then,
we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain.
For he says:

In an acceptable time I heard you,
and on the day of salvation I helped you.

Behold, now is a very acceptable time;
behold, now is the day of salvation.

Verse Before The GospelSEE PS 95:8
If today you hear his voice,
harden not your hearts.

Jesus said to his disciples:
"Take care not to perform righteous deeds
in order that people may see them;
otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father.
When you give alms,
do not blow a trumpet before you,
as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets
to win the praise of others.
Amen, I say to you,
they have received their reward.
But when you give alms,
do not let your left hand know what your right is doing,
so that your almsgiving may be secret.
And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

"When you pray,
do not be like the hypocrites,
who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners
so that others may see them.
Amen, I say to you,
they have received their reward.
But when you pray, go to your inner room,
close the door, and pray to your Father in secret.
And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

"When you fast,
do not look gloomy like the hypocrites.
They neglect their appearance,
so that they may appear to others to be fasting.
Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.
But when you fast,
anoint your head and wash your face,
so that you may not appear to be fasting,
except to your Father who is hidden.
And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you."


Meditation: When you pray, fast, and give alms
 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.
Devoting our lives to God
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 (godly) 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).
Fulness of life with God our Father
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.
In the wilderness of prayer and fasting with Jesus
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 (expressing true sorrow for sin and wrongdoing) as we prepare to celebrate the feast of Easter, the Christian Passover of Jesus' victory over sin, Satan, and death. 
Growing in lively faith, firm hope, and fervent charity
The Lord Jesus gives us spiritual food and supernatural strength (faith, hope, and love) 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 you begin this holy season of testing and preparation, ask the Lord Jesus for a fresh outpouring of his Holy Spirit so that you 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."
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)

ASH WEDNESDAY
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 1, MATTHEW 6:1-6, 16-18
Day of Fast and Abstinence

(Joel 2:12-18; Psalm 51; 2 Corinthians 5:20 ̶ 6:2)

KEY VERSE: "Take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them; otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father" (Mt 6:1).
TO KNOW: In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus asked his disciples to examine their motives when performing virtuous deeds. He gave three examples, which were characteristic of Jewish piety at the time: almsgiving (vs 1-4), prayer (vs 5-15), and fasting (vs 16-18). Jesus contrasted the hypocritical behavior of the religious leaders with the sincere conduct he expected of his followers. Prayer should express the disciple's relationship with God. Almsgiving should convey their solidarity with the poor. Fasting should represent their sorrow for sin. The prophets warned against outward signs without interior conversion. Joel said: "Rend your hearts, not your garments, and return to the Lord" (Jl 2:13a). Fasting had no value if only done to win the approval of others. Isaiah said that an acceptable fast should include acts of justice toward the prisoner, poor, hungry, oppressed and homeless (Is 58:5-7). Today, the placing of ashes on our foreheads is a confession of our sinfulness, but also a sign of hope and trust in a merciful God who is rich in kindness and relenting in punishment" (Jl 2:13b).
TO LOVE: .In what ways will I pray, fast and give alms this Lent?
TO SERVE: Lord Jesus, help me to do everything for the love of God and neighbor.

Ashes

The ashes used for Ash Wednesday come from burning the palm fronds from the previous year’s Palm Sunday, the Sunday before Easter. Ashes are a biblical symbol of mourning and penance used since the time of Moses ("sackcloth and ashes," Nm 19:9-10, 17-18). They also symbolize death to remind us of our mortality. Thus when the faithful are signed with ashes, we hear, "Remember! You are dust and to dust you shall return." Ashes remind us of the Day of Judgment when we stand before God: "Repent, and believe the good news!". To prepare well for that day, we must die now to sin so that we can rise to new life in Christ. Being marked with ashes at the beginning of Lent indicates our need for deeper conversion of our lives during this season of renewal.


Fast and Abstinence Lenten Regulations 

Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are obligatory days of universal fast and abstinence. Fasting allows a person to eat one full meal a day and is mandatory for all who have completed their 18th year and have not yet reached their 60th year. Two smaller meals may be taken, which are not to equal one full meal. Abstinence (from meat) is required of all who have reached their 14th year. Drinking of ordinary liquids does not break the fast.


Wednesday 1 March 2017

Wed 1st. Ash Wednesday Jl 2:12-18; 2Co 5:206:2; Mt 6:1-6,16-18
In this special Lenten series – Darkness to light: An intimate journey with Jesus – our guest writer looks to the Gospel stories for answers to the questions that many of us ask when faced with difficult times.
Readings

'When you pray, go to your private room and, when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in that secret place.'
Today, in my private room, there are no distractions from the outside world. There is nothing here but heartache. My beloved has just received the worst possible diagnosis. The condition is terminal. I ask 'How long?' The doctor says six to eight weeks. I had partly expected this. In hindsight, I realise I had seen all the signs. I had as good as been told, but I was in denial. Now there is no way out.

What can be harder than watching one's beloved go to their death? What can be sadder than travelling every step of the way, watching life ebb away and my love being taken? In my private room I am facing the reality of death and the ultimate loss of the love of my life. I wish I could have been more loving. Only now do I realise how much love means.
For the first few weeks of Lent we will mostly be following Jesus' journey to the cross in the Gospelof Matthew. Jesus is shown to be the beloved Sonof God and the Messiah, and yet he is betrayed by Judas, denied by Peter, and then most cruelly treated. The abandonment and pain is absolute.

Lent lasts 40 days. In the Old Testament the number 40 is a Covenant theme. Whenever it appears, it always refers to God's relationship with the chosen people. Noah is in the Ark 40 days and nights, after which
a rainbow appears as a sign of a new Covenant with God. The Hebrews wander in the desert for 40 years, as the Lord God prepares them for the Promised Land. Moses was on the Mountain 40 days and nights, before God gave him the Ten Commandments that articulated the Old Covenant. Elijah walks 40 days and nights to Mt Sinai, to renew the Covenant where God had spoken to Moses. And so Jesus goes intothe desert for 40 days and nights, as a sign that he is establishing a New Covenant. We must remember that this Covenant is with each of us, as each of us has a unique relationship with our loving God.

But today, in my private room, there is still only heartache. I give thanks for your promises and rainbows, but dear God, does my love go to dust? Please help me. This Lent will mean everything to me: a journey with my beloved in the last weeks and days of life. Loving God, help me to sense your presence. Help me to live in love. Help me to stay close to Jesus and his cruel treatment, all the way to resurrection.

ST. DAVID OF WALES

Among Welsh Catholics, as well as those in England, March 1 is the liturgical celebration of Saint David of Wales.
St. David is the patron of the Welsh people, remembered as a missionary bishop and the founder of many monasteries during the sixth century.

David was a popular namesake for churches in Wales prior to the Anglican schism, and his feast day is still an important religious and civic observance.

Although Pope Benedict XVI did not visit Wales during his 2010 trip to the U.K., he blessed a mosaic icon of its patron, and delivered remarks praising St. David as “one of the great saints of the sixth century, that golden age of saints and missionaries in these isles, and...thus a founder of the Christian culture which lies at the root of modern Europe.”

In his comments, Pope Benedict recalled the saint's dying words to his monastic brethren: “Be joyful, keep the faith, and do the little things.” He urged that St. David's message, “in all its simplicity and richness, continue to resound in Wales today, drawing the hearts of its people to renewed love for Christ and his Church.”

From a purely historical standpoint, little is known of David’s life, with the earliest biography dating from centuries after his time. As with some other saints of sixth-century Wales, even the chronology of his life is not easy to ascertain.

David’s conception is said to have occurred as a result of rape – a detail that seems unlikely to have been invented by later biographers, though it cannot (like almost all of the traditions surrounding his life) be established with certainty. His mother Saint Nonna, or Nonnita, has her traditional feast day on March 3.

David appears to have been the cousin of his contemporary Saint Teilo, another Welsh bishop and monk. He is described as a pupil of the monastic educator Saint Paulinus, who was one of St. Teilo’s teachers as well. There are doubts, however, about the story which holds that David and Teilo traveled to Jerusalem and were ordained together as bishops.

It is clear that David served as the Bishop of Menevia, an important port city linking Wales and Ireland in his time. His leading role in two local councils of the Church is also a matter of record.

Twelve monasteries have their founding ascribed to David, who developed a reputation for strict asceticism. His monks modeled their lives on the earliest desert hermits – combining hard manual labor, silence, long hours of prayer, and a diet that completely excluded meat and alcohol.

One tradition places his death in the year 601, but other writers believe he died in the 540s. David may well have survived to an advanced age, but evidence is lacking for the claim (made by his 11th-century biographer) that he lived to the age of 147. Pope Callistus II canonized St. David of Wales in 1120.

LECTIO DIVINA: ASH WEDNESDAY
Lectio Divina: 
 Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Ash Wednesday
The meaning of prayer, almsgiving and fasting
The way to spend the time of Lent well
Matthew 6,1-6,16-18
1. OPENING PRAYER
Lord Jesus, send your Spirit to help us to read the Scriptures with the same mind that you read them to the disciples on the way to Emmaus. In the light of the Word, written in the Bible, you helped them to discover the presence of God in the disturbing events of your sentence and death. Thus, the cross that seemed to be the end of all hope became for them the source of life and of resurrection.
Create in us silence so that we may listen to your voice in Creation and in the Scriptures, in events and in people, above all in the poor and suffering. May your word guide us so that we too, like the two disciples from Emmaus, may experience the force of your resurrection and witness to others that you are alive in our midst as source of fraternity, justice and peace. We ask this of you, Jesus, son of Mary, who revealed to us the Father and sent us your Spirit. Amen.
2. READING
a) A key to the reading:
The Gospel of Ash Wednesday is taken from the Sermon on the Mount and offers us help to understand the practice of the three works of mercy: prayer, almsgiving and fasting and the way to spend the time of Lent well. The manner of practising these three works has changed over the centuries, according to the culture and customs of people and their state of health. Old people today still remember when there was a strict and compulsory fast of forty days throughout Lent. In spite of changes in the practice of the works of mercy, there still is the human and Christian obligation (i) to share our goods with the poor (almsgiving), (ii) to live in contact with the Creator (prayer) and (iii) to be able to control our urges and desires (fasting). The words of Jesus on which we meditate can give us the necessary creativity to find new forms of living these three practices so important in the life of Christians.
b) A division of the text to assist in the reading:
Matthew 6:1: A general key to the understanding of the teaching that follows
Matthew 6:2: How not to go about almsgiving
Matthew 6:3-4: How to go about almsgiving
Matthew 6:5: How not to pray
Matthew 6:6: How to pray
Matthew 6:16: How not to fast
Matthew 6:17-18: How to fast
c) Text:
'Be careful not to parade your uprightness in public to attract attention; otherwise you will lose all reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give alms, do not have it trumpeted before you; this is what the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets to win human admiration. In truth I tell you, they have had their reward. But when you give alms, your left hand must not know what your right is doing; your almsgiving must be secret, and your Father who sees all that is done in secret will reward you.
'And when you pray, do not imitate the hypocrites: they love to say their prayers standing up in the synagogues and at the street corners for people to see them. In truth I tell you, they have had their reward. But when you pray, go to your private room, shut yourself in, and so pray to your Father who is in that secret place, and your Father who sees all that is done in secret will reward you.
'When you are fasting, do not put on a gloomy look as the hypocrites do: they go about looking unsightly to let people know they are fasting. In truth I tell you, they have had their reward. But when you fast, put scent on your head and wash your face, 18 so that no one will know you are fasting except your Father who sees all that is done in secret; and your Father who sees all that is done in secret will reward you.
3. A MOMENT OF PRAYERFUL SILENCE
so that the Word of God may penetrate and enlighten our life.
4. SOME QUESTIONS
to help us in our personal reflection.
a) What touched you or pleased you most in this text?
b) What is the meaning of Jesus’ initial warning?
c) What does Jesus criticise and teach about almsgiving? Make a resume for yourself.
d) What does Jesus criticise and teach about prayer? Make a resume for yourself.
e) What does Jesus criticise and teach about fasting? Make a resume for yourself.
5. FOR THOSE WHO WISH TO GO DEEPER INTO THE THEME
a) The context:
Jesus speaks of three things: almsgiving (Mt 6:1-6), prayer (Mt 6:5-15) and fasting (Mt 6:16-18). These were the three works of mercy of the Jews. Jesus criticises the fact that they practise these works to be seen by others (Mt 6:1). He will not allow that the practice of justice and mercy be used as a means to social promotion within the community (Mt 6:2.5.16). In the words of Jesus there comes to light a new kind of relationship with God that is revealed to us. He says: “your Father who sees all that is done in secret will reward you" (Mt 6:4), “your Father knows what you need before you ask him” (Mt 6:8), “if you forgive others their failings, your heavenly Father will forgive you yours ” (Mt 6,14). Jesus presents us with a new way of approaching the heart of God. A meditation on his words concerning the works of mercy may help us discover this new way.
b) A commentary on the text:
Matthew 6:1: A general key to an understanding of the teaching that follows
Jesus says: Be careful not to parade your uprightness in public to attract attention; otherwise you will lose all reward from your Father in heaven. The justice referred to by Jesus is the place where God wants us to be. The way there is found in the Law of God. Jesus warns that it is not enough to observe the law so as to be praised by people. Earlier he had said: “For I tell you, if your uprightness does not surpass that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never get into the kingdom of Heaven" (Mt 5:26). In reading these words we must not think only of the Pharisees of Jesus’ time, but above all of the Pharisee that is dormant in each one of us. Had Joseph, Mary’s spouse, followed the justice of the law of the Pharisees, he would have had to renounce Mary. But he was “just” (Mt 1:19), and already possessed the new justice proclaimed by Jesus. That is why he broke the ancient law and saved Mary’s and Jesus’ lives. The new justice proclaimed by Jesus rests on another foundation, springs from another source. We must build our peace from inside, not in what we do for God, but in what God does for us. This is the general key to an understanding of the teaching of Jesus on the works of mercy. In what follows, Matthew applies this general principle to the practice of almsgiving, prayer and fasting. Didactically, he first expresses what must not be and then immediately teaches what should be.
Matthew 6:2: How not to go about almsgiving
The wrong way of giving alms, then and now, is that of doing it in public so as to be acknowledged and acclaimed by others. We often see on pews of churches the words: “Gift of such-and-such a family”. On television, politicians love to appear as great benefactors of humanity on occasions of inaugurations of public works at the service of the community. Jesus says: Those who act thus have already had their reward.
Matthew 6:3-4: How to go about almsgiving
The correct way of giving alms is this: “Your left hand must not know what your right hand is doing!” In other words, we must give alms in such a way that not even I must feel that I am doing something good that deserves a reward from God and praise from others. Almsgiving is an obligation. It is a way of sharing something that I have with those who have nothing. In a family, what belongs to one belongs to all. Jesus praises the example of the widow who gave of what was needed for herself (Mk 12:44).
Matthew 6:5: How not to pray
Speaking of the wrong way of praying, Jesus mentions some strange practices and customs of his day. When the trumpet sounded for morning, midday and evening prayer, there were those who sought to be in the middle of the road to pray solemnly with arms outstretched so as to be seen by all and thus be considered as pious people. Others took up extravagant poses in the synagogue so as to draw the attention of the community.
Matthew 6:6: How to pray
So as to leave no doubt, Jesus over-emphasises the manner of praying. He says that we must pray in secret, only before God the Father. No one will see you. May be before others you may even seem to be a person who does not pray. This does not matter! Even of Jesus it was said: “He is not God!” That is because Jesus often prayed at night and did not care what others thought. What matters is to have one’s conscience at peace and to know that God is the Father who welcomes me, not because of what I do for God or because of the satisfaction that I seek in the fact that others appreciate me as one who is pious and prays.
Matthew 6:16: How not to fast
Jesus criticises wrong practices concerning fasting. There were those who bore a sad face, did not wash, wore torn clothes, did not comb their hair, so that all could see that they were fasting in a perfect manner.
Matthew 6:17-18: How to fast
Jesus suggests the opposite: When you fast, put scent on your head, wash your face, so that no one may know that you are fasting, only your Father who is in heaven.
As we said earlier, it is a new manner of accessing the heart of God that is opening before our eyes. For our own interior peace, Jesus does not ask what we do for God, but what God does for us. Almsgiving, prayer and fasting are not currency to buy God’s favour, but are our response of gratitude for the love received and experienced.
c) Further information:
i) The broader context of Matthew’s Gospel
Matthew’s Gospel was written for a community of converted Jews who were experiencing a deep crisis of identity in relation to their past. After their conversion to Jesus, they continued to live according to their old traditions and frequented the synagogue, together with their relatives and friends, just as before. But they suffered because of the strong pressure from their Jewish friends who did not accept Jesus as the Messiah. This tension grew after the year 70 AD. When in 66 AD the revolt of the Jews against Rome broke out, two groups refused to take part, the Pharisees and the Jewish Christians. Both groups held that going against Rome had nothing to do with the coming of the Messiah, as some thought. After the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in the year 70, all the other Jewish groups disappeared. Only the Pharisees and the Jewish Christians remained. Both groups claimed to be the heirs of the promise of the prophets and, thus, the tension grew between brothers, because of the inheritance. The Pharisees reorganised the rest of the people and took an ever-stronger position against the Christians, who ended by being excommunicated from the synagogues. This excommunication rekindled the whole problem of identity. Now the Christians were officially and formally separated from the people of the promise. They could no longer frequent their synagogue, their rabbis. And they asked themselves: Who are the real people of God: they or us? On whose side is God? Is Jesus really the Messiah?
Thus, Matthew writes his Gospel (1) for this group of Christians, as a Gospel of consolation for those who had been excommunicated and persecuted by the Jews; helping them to overcome the trauma of breaking away; (2) as a Gospel of revelation, showing that Jesus is the true Messiah, the new Moses, who fulfils the promises; (3) as a Gospel of the new practice, showing how they must achieve true justice, greater than the justice of the Pharisees.
ii) A key to the Sermon on the Mount
The Sermon on the Mount is the first of five sermons in Matthew’s Gospel. It describes the conditions that will allow a person to enter the Kingdom of God: the way in, the new reading of the law, the new way of looking at and practising the works of mercy; the new way of living in community. In a word, in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus communicates the new way of looking at the things of Life and the Kingdom. The following is a division that serves as a key to reading:
Mt 5:1-16: The way in
Mt 5:1-10: The eight Beatitudes help us to see where the kingdom is already present (Mt among the poor and persecuted) and where it will be soon (Mt among the other six groups).
Mt 5:12-16: Jesus addresses his words of consolation to his disciples and warns: anyone who lives the beatitudes will be persecuted (Mt 5:11-12), but his or her life will have meaning because he/she will be the salt of the earth (Mt 5:13) and the light of the world (Mt 5:14-16).
Mt 5:17-to-6:18: The new relationship with God: A new Justice
Mt 5:17-48: The new justice must be greater than that of the Pharisees
Jesus radicalises the law, that is, he brings it back to its roots, to its main and ultimate purpose which is to serve life, justice, love and truth. The commandments of the law point to a new way of life, avoided by the Pharisees (Mt 5:17-20).
Jesus immediately presents various examples as to how the commandments of the Law of God given to Moses are to be understood: of old it was said, but I say to you (Mt 5:21-48)
Mt 6:1-18: The new justice must not seek reward or merit (This is the Gospel of this Ash Wednesday).
Mt 6:19-34: The new relationship to the goods of this world: a new vision of creation
Jesus comes to grips with the primary needs of life: food, clothing, house and health. This is the part of life that causes most anxiety in people. Jesus teaches how to relate to material goods and to the riches of the world: do not accumulate goods (Mt 6:19-21), do not look at the world with sad eyes (Mt 6:22-23), do not serve God and money at the same time (Mt 6:24), do not worry about food and drink (Mt 6:23-34).
Mt 7:1-29: The new relationship with people: a new life in community
Do not seek the straw in your brother’s eye (Mt 7:1-5); do not cast pearls before swine (Mt 7:6); Do not be afraid of asking for things from God (Mt 7:7-11); observe the golden rule (Mt 7:12); seek the narrow and difficult path (Mt 7:13-14); be wary of false prophets (Mt 7:15-20); do not just talk but do (Mt 7:21-23); the community built on these principles will stand in spite of raging storms (Mt 7:24-27). The outcome of these words is a new awareness in the face of the scribes and doctors (Mt 7:28-29).
6. PRAYER IN A PSALM: PSALM 40 (39)
Proclaiming the great justice of God
I waited, I waited for Yahweh,
then he stooped to me and heard my cry for help.
He pulled me up from the seething chasm,
from the mud of the mire.
He set my feet on rock,
and made my footsteps firm.
He put a fresh song in my mouth,
praise of our God.
Many will be awestruck at the sight,
and will put their trust in Yahweh.
How blessed are those who put their trust in Yahweh,
who have not sided with rebels
and those who have gone astray in falsehood.
How much you have done, Yahweh, my God
 your wonders, your plans for us -- you have no equal.
I will proclaim and speak of them;
they are beyond number.
You wanted no sacrifice or cereal offering,
but you gave me an open ear,
you did not ask for burnt offering or sacrifice for sin;
then I said, 'Here I am, I am coming.'
In the scroll of the book it is written of me,
my delight is to do your will;
your law, my God, is deep in my heart.
I proclaimed the saving justice of Yahweh in the great assembly.
See, I will not hold my tongue,
as you well know.
I have not kept your saving justice locked in the depths of my heart,
but have spoken of your constancy and saving help.
I have made no secret of your faithful and steadfast love,
in the great assembly.
You, Yahweh, have not withheld your tenderness from me;
your faithful and steadfast love will always guard me.
For troubles surround me,
until they are beyond number;
my sins have overtaken me;
I cannot see my way.
They outnumber the hairs of my head,
and my heart fails me.
Be pleased, Yahweh, to rescue me,
Yahweh, come quickly and help me!
Shame and dismay to all who seek to take my life.
Back with them,
let them be humiliated who delight in my misfortunes.
Let them be aghast with shame,
those who say to me, 'Aha, aha!'
But joy and happiness in you to all who seek you!
Let them ceaselessly cry,
'Great is Yahweh' who love your saving power.
Poor and needy as I am,
the Lord has me in mind.
You, my helper, my Saviour, my God, do not delay.
7. FINAL PRAYER
Lord Jesus, we thank for the word that has enabled us to understand better the will of the Father. May your Spirit enlighten our actions and grant us the strength to practice that which your Word has revealed to us. May we, like Mary, your mother, not only listen to but also practice the Word. You who live and reign with the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit forever and ever. Amen.