Saturday of the First Week in Lent

Dt 26:16-19; Ps 119:1-5,7-8; Mt 5:43-48:  Our true beatitude is found in following the Law of the LORD.  As Pope John-Paul II proclaimed to the youth in Toronto in 2002, “My dear young people do you want to be happy?  I will tell you how to be happy.  Embrace the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ and you will be happy!” They were loud with applause and jubilant with praise.  They heard the truth, and it set them free.  Psalm 130 praises those who follow the Law of the LORD.  True blessedness is found in those who walk in the Law of the LORD; their way is blameless.  Blessed are those who observe his decrees; blessed are those who seek him with all their heart.  The precepts of the LORD are to be kept diligently.  Only the LORD provides the strength needed to be firm in the ways of keeping his statutes.  Without his energy and his faithfulness, we so easily wander from the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  We are truly grateful when we have learned His just ordinances.  When we keep his statutes with an upright heart, the LORD will not utterly forsake us.  Indeed, as the LORD spoke to Moses, we who keep his commandments become a people sacred to the LORD, even as he promised.  The Lord Jesus promises that we will become like Our Father, perfect.

The LORD God summoned his ransomed slaves from Egypt to live among the nations as a people peculiarly his own.  This is possible only if they keep all his commandments.  Moses instructs them to carefully keep all his statutes.  They are to observe them with all their heart and all their soul.  This is the agreement they made with the LORD.  They have committed themselves to hearken to the voice of the LORD in the depths of their conscience.  This interior voice of judgment is to be guided by the statutes, commandments, and decrees of the LORD.  Without a conscience, it is impossible to be heart and soul observant.  In our day so many people have deadened their conscience. They do not believe in absolute moral norms.  They do not even believe in universal truth.  Yet, somehow even when no one is watching, we still know what is right and what is wrong.  Even though no one may witness our disobedience the LORD our God beholds day in and day out.  There is no place where we can hide from his presence; nowhere we can flee from his face.
The first reading from Deuteronomy calls us to be a “peculiar people.”  Today’s gospel from Saint Matthew calls us to be an “unusual people.”  We are peculiar when we with whole hearts and souls choose to obey the commands that flow out of the covenant that God has entered into with his people and gradually with all people.  We are unusual when we love even our enemies.  The perfection of the Law of the LORD is seen in the Incarnate Son of God.  He is definitely peculiar and completely unusual. He never even desires to disobey the Law of God.  Although his contemporaries tried to frame his obedience of the will of God as rebellion, he interpreted rightly the Law of the LORD, and thus lived it with perfect integrity.  The Lord Jesus loved his enemies and prayed for those who persecuted him.  Indeed he taught us to be children of our heavenly Father, making his sun to rise on the bad and the good and causing the rain to fall on the just and the unjust.  As Saint Paul testifies the Lord Jesus loved us before we loved him, and while we were still his foes he surrendered his life for us upon the cross.  It is this love that liberates us to love those who hate us.  Even our daily greetings will reveal the honesty and strength of Christ’s love in us. Indeed, the Lord Jesus expects us to be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect.