3rd Week of Lent, Wednesday, Mar 18

Deuteronomy 4:1, 5-9 / Matthew 5:17-19

Moses instructs the people: “Don’t forget what your eyes have seen.”
Lewis Carroll’s famous book The Adventures of Alice in Wonderland has a lot of soft or low-key humor in it. An example is when the King tells the Queen about a terrifying moment he just had. “‘The horror of that moment,’ the King said, T shall never, never forget!’ ‘You will, though,’ the Queen said, ‘if you don’t make a memorandum of it.’” Moses makes the same point to the people as they are about to enter the Promised Land. Talking about the many things God has done for them, he says:
“Be on your guard! Make certain that you do not forget, as long as you live, what you have seen with your own eyes.”
How do we keep God’s many blessings to us from slipping from our memory? “God gives us memory so that we may have roses in December.” James Matthew Barrie
Most homes and offices will have a storage room of some sort and of various sizes. Of course, the bigger the storage room, the more the items there can be. Some of these items may be things of importance or they may just be ordinary things that we use now and then, or things that we just want to get out of the way and so the most convenient place to put them will be the storage room.

But the problem can be that we may not make a list of what we put in that storage room and also, we may not be that discerning and hence, that room will be cluttered with things like boxes and brooms and whatever. And after a while, we may not remember what we have put into that storage room and when we want to look for something that we may also forget that we put it in that room.

Such can be said of our hearts and minds. There are so many things to remember and so many things to think about that after a while, even the important things like birthdays and anniversaries are forgotten.

In the 1st reading, Moses urged the people not to forget the things their eyes have seen, nor let them slip from their hearts all the days of their life. They must tell them to their children and even to their children's children. In the gospel, Jesus said that He did not come to abolish the Law or the Prophets but to complete them. In effect, He is reminding us of the Law of God that must be taught and kept in our minds and hearts.

The season of Lent is to help us remember what Jesus had taught us and to keep it and also to teach it to our children and also to our children's children.

Wednesday of 3rd Week of Lent  - LITURGY


What is the meaning of the commandments to us? To some, they are the summary and summit of all morality; to others, narrow and outmoded rules; still to others, obstacles to the freedom of the gospel.  To Israel, they were the expression of fidelity to God and to the whole people as part of God’s covenant. They were the road to freedom from all forms of slavery: to other gods, to selfishness, to exploitation of one person by another. They were the sign of belonging to God and God’s nearness. And they were witnesses that love of God and love of neighbor cannot be separated.  In Christ, all this is fulfilled, and more. The commandments remain, but they become a basic step not to salvation by observances but to seeking communion with God in Christ and communion with our neighbor, and they are animated by love.   

Penitential Rite:
-Moses taught the statutes and decrees as the LORD, my God, has commanded, when we fail in following them, LHM
-Your statutes and decrees that are as just as Your whole law, when we fail in practising justice, CHM
- You remind us in Jesus that whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do so will be called least in the Kingdom of heaven, LHM

Opening Prayer   
Lord our God, you have given us your commandments to set us on the road of freedom from all forms of alienation.  May we learn to obey them not to save ourselves by observances nor to do you favors, but to be free for you and for people and to live in your love, with Jesus Christ, your Son and our Lord.

There are few verses in the New Testament more widely debated than those from the Matthean Gospel read today. The claim for the lasting value of the Torah seems to be the antithesis of Paul’s teaching on freedom from the law. Moreover, there is no historical evidence that the church ever retained every precept of Torah. The fact is that most of its legislation did not continue.  It is helpful to begin with the facts. Paul insisted that the precepts of the Jewish law must not obtain among Gentile Christians. His position prevailed. If we are correct in the assumption that Matthew’s Gospel was written for a largely Jewish Christian community, then law observance may well have obtained for some period of time. This would have been seen as consonant with Jesus’ basic respect for the law during his lifetime.  The examples used in Matthew 5 of fulfilling the law and not destroying it do not in any way violate Paul’s thought. The Decalogue contained basic moral norms that Jesus did not ignore but raised to a new level. Where the law forbade killing, the teaching of Christ excludes even personal hostility. The law is fulfilled in going beyond it. Both Matthew and Paul champion a new ethic that in its premises respects and upholds the basic principles of Torah.  The reading from Deuteronomy today provides insight on why Torah was held in such esteem. It brought God close to his people. His will for them was expressed with clarity. It did not require mental gyrations to divine God’s intentions.  As we make the journey of life, we are comforted by the fact that God’s will for us, especially as expressed in Jesus, is a guiding light, a beacon on what are at times stormy seas. At times we find it difficult to live as a Christian. We make mistakes. But the will of God remains a great grace for which we can only be grateful as we make the journey.   

Points to Ponder   
Moving beyond the Decalogue 
Understanding Matthew and Paul 
The God who is near to us   

– That we may learn to look at the commandments not as obstacles to our freedom, but like the people of God of old, as guidelines for fidelity and freedom, we pray: 
– That we may not get entangled in the letter of the law but serve the Lord with the freedom of the sons and daughters of God as Jesus teaches us in the gospel, we pray: 
– That we ask ourselves not so much what must we do but rather what can we do to for the love of God and people, we pray:   

Prayer over the Gifts   
Lord our God, you are near to us in your Son Jesus Christ.  May he make us aware of the price he paid for our freedom.  As we sit at table with him, may he give us the grace and strength to give you a response of freedom, that with him we may love you as your sons and daughters, now and for ever. 

Prayer after Communion   
Lord our God, you have chosen us to be your people.  May your Son be alive in us, that with him we may be faithful to you and march forward together to build a land of freedom and to share with one another until you share yourself with us for ever.  We ask this through Christ our Lord.   

Let the great commandment given us by Jesus guide our life and make it beautiful and rich: Love God and love your neighbor as yourself, with the blessing of almighty God, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.