3rd Week of Lent, Friday, Mar 20

Hosea 14:2-10 / Mark 12:28-34 
God speaks through Hosea: Return to the Lord!
Father Malachi’s Miracle by Bruce Marshall has a moving scene of a priest trying to help a dying sailor make a good confession. The trouble is the sailor says he’s honestly not sorry for his many affairs in many ports. They are his only pleasant memories of an otherwise difficult life. Finally, in desperation, the priest says to the old sailor, “Are you sorry, at least, that you’re not sorry?” Sometimes it’s also hard for us to realize how badly we’ve failed God in our lives. As a result, we don’t feel repentant or any need to “return to the Lord.” If and when this happens to us, we should at least tell God we’re sorry that we aren’t sorry for our failure.
How conscious are we of our shortcomings? “Many do not recognize Christ because they do not recognize themselves as sinners. If I am no sinner, I have no need of Christ.” Kilian McDonnell
When we read books like the "7 Habits of Highly-effective People" or "The Joy of Living" or other inspirational books, they give very interesting and very good pointers for life. Yet, when we think about it carefully, the principles of life are actually very simple. It is actually what Jesus said in today's gospel: Love God and love neighbour. Sounds simple, but it may take a whole life-time to discover the truth of such a simple statement. Because we tend to love things and be self-centered. Yet the season of Lent calls us back to the love of God.

In the 1st reading, the prophet Hosea not only called his people back to this love of God, he also proclaimed how much God loves His people even though they turned away from Him. We may remember that hymn of Hosea - Come back to me with all your heart, don't let fear keep us apart. Long have I waited for your coming home to me and living deeply our new life.

The way of life is indeed simple: Love God and neighbour. That is the way that Jesus is teaching us. As the 1st reading ends off - For the ways of the Lord are straight, and virtuous men walk in them, but sinners stumble.

Friday of 3rd Week of Lent- LITURGY


Many human endeavors fail because God is left out of the picture. Israel wanted to go her own way, relying on her resources and alliances with the mighty of the day. The mighty are toppled by mightier ones, and everything collapses. People today try to establish prosperity and happiness, but at the expense of others, with the force of arms or relying on gadgets, money, or palliatives. We cannot be saved without God. Salvation lies in love of God and is expressed in love of our neighbor. The rule of life of Christians is: Love God with your whole being, and your neighbor as yourself; see God in your neighbor and see also a bit of yourself in your neighbor.   

Penitential Rite:
-As we hear, return, O people, to the LORD, your God; you have collapsed through your guilt.  LHM
- Forgive all our iniquity, and receive what is good, that we may render you offerings, CHM
-Let us hear from you, Lord, “I will heal their defection and I will love them freely, LHM

Opening Prayer   
Lord our God, all throughout history people have experienced that we cannot be happy if we rely merely on our own insights and resources.  God, do not let us idolize anything made with our own hands, but may we humbly seek justice, truth and happiness in cooperation and communion with you, as you taught us through Jesus Christ who lives with you and the Holy Spirit for ever and ever.   

The Great Commandment has been saved for this third week of Lent. If one can speak of the genius of Christianity, it certainly finds expression in the first and greatest commandment. It is a summary of the entire Christian ethic.  This precept combines two concepts from the Old Testament. The first is the great Shema from the Book of Deuteronomy, an unequivocal statement of monotheistic faith. Yahweh is God and he alone; the response required is total and uncompromising. As the only God, he is to be loved with the totality of one’s forces (heart, soul, and mind). This recognition of God’s absolute sovereignty is coupled with a thought from Leviticus. It expresses the horizontal dimension of our moral life. Our neighbor is to be loved as we love ourselves, and neighbor here is to be taken in a broad sense. Unlike its earlier meaning, it is not limited to other Israelites. It calls for openness to any human being. To answer the question of the Good Samaritan parable—“Who is my neighbor?”—the answer is anyone who has need of me.  The recognition of God and neighbor leaves no middle ground. It is a summary of the entire New Testament ethic, especially the Sermon on the Mount. We are called to recognize from the heart the sovereignty and goodness of God and to respond to the needs of others as they occur.  Hosea’s insistent call to conversion is at the heart of his message. Sadly Israel had abandoned her first love and gone after empty idols. In this moving book, the prophet calls, with insistence for a “return.” The lesson of forgiveness is a good benchmark here. As John asks, How can I say that I love God whom I do not see and do not love my neighbor whom I see? In short, the Christian is the one who loves prayer but also has a spirit of availability toward brother and sister. Be sure that in making an examination of conscience, the Great Commandment is a worthy tool. In a real sense, that says it all.  

Points to Ponder   
Does God have full sway in my life? 
The relationship between love of God and neighbour
Recognizing one’s neighbor in today’s world   

– That Christians everywhere may not be people of legalisms and outward observances, but people with a heart who do what they have to do and more, because they are God’s children, we pray: 
– That the nations of the world may respect and love one another and build peace and progress on the basis of justice and equitable sharing, we pray: 
– That our anemic and dried-up love may become rich and spontaneous, like a fresh breath of life and joy brightening the lives of those around us and a wordless song of praise to God, we pray:   

Prayer over the Gifts   
Lord, our God and Father, we are gathered here for this Eucharist to celebrate the coming among us of your life and love through your Son.  May our offering be the recognition that you loved us before we could love you.  Help us to express our grateful love to you by extending our hands to all who are called to be brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ, our Lord and brother for ever.  

Prayer after Communion   
Lord, our God and Father, you have broken for us the life-giving bread of your Son.  By the strength of the Eucharist, may we love you, our living God, with all that is in us and our neighbor far and near as much as we love ourselves.  We ask you this through Christ our Lord.