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1st Week of Lent, Saturday - Mar 7th

Deut 26:16-19 / Matthew 5:43-48
Jesus teaches about love: Pray for your persecutors"

A father and his son were traveling by bus. The father inadvertently violated a minor safety regulation. The bus driver went berserk. He verbally abused the father, humiliating him in front of his little son and the rest of the passengers. After it was all over, the boy said to his father, “Dad, you didn't have to take that He was out of line.”
“Son,” said the father, “that poor man has to put up with himself twenty-four hours a day. The least I can do is to put up with him for two minutes.”
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How do we respond when we are humiliated or treated rudely? Lord, help us respond to verbal abuse not by booming abusive ourselves, but by showing understanding, as you did. 

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People who are searching for a religion to adhere to may ask this question: How is Christianity different from the rest of the other religions? Well, of course there are many ways to answer that question. One answer could be this - Christianity doesn't just teach you to be good; Christianity teaches you to be like God! That was what Jesus meant when He said: You must be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.

In other words, we must be holy, just as our heavenly Father is holy. We must be like God our Father, no less. To be like God means to do what Jesus did. And that is to love our enemies and to pray for those who persecute us. People might say that that is crazy, but that is what it means to be holy. So can it be possible to be holy as God is holy?

As the 1st reading puts it, when we declare that God is our only God, then God will also make the declaration that we are His very own people. God will consecrate us with His love and we will be living images of His holiness in the world.

So is the Lord God our only God? That is the question that we have to answer in the purifying season of Lent. 

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LITURGY:
Introduction
The life of a pious Jew could be summed up as a response to God’s covenant of love with a covenant loyalty. This is also the life of a Christian, even more so: as God takes the initiative of offering his gratuitous love to his people and to each of us, so we try to give him a response of faithful love and offer to our neighbour a spontaneous, gratuitous love which comes from the depth of our being and commits us beyond the call of the law. Christian life is then communion with God, communion with people, even with enemies, for there should be no enemies for Christians.

Penitential Rite:
-Today you are making this agreement with the Lord: he is to be your God and you are to walk in his ways, LHM
-today the Lord is making this agreement with you: you will be a people sacred to the Lord, your God, as he promised, CHM
-For if you love those who love you, what difference is there between the tax collectors and you?, LHM

Opening Prayer
Lord God, from you comes the initiative of love. You seek us out and you tell us: “I am your God; you are my people.” You love us in Jesus Christ, your Son. God, may our response of love go far beyond the demands of any law. May we seek you and commune with you in the deepest of our being and may we express our gratitude to you by going to our neighbor with a love that is spontaneous like yours. We ask you this through Christ our Lord.

Love your enemies and pray even for those who hurt you. Not an easy task, but something that should be the mark of Christians. We have hurt God and he forgives. We should do the same for one another, with the blessing of almighty God,

Prayer over the Gifts
Lord our God, loving Father, in this Eucharist your Son gives himself to you and to us with a free response of total commitment. May he share this kind of love with us, that we may become inventive and creative in committing ourselves to the happiness of all those far and near, that together we may be your people and you our God for ever in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Prayer after Communion
Lord our God, you have made us your priestly people to proclaim to the whole world that you are a saving and loving God. Grateful for your spontaneous love, may we be aware of our task, and be your word that encourages and forgives, your hands that bless, your feet that seek out what is lost, in the strength of Jesus Christ our Lord.