This Week’s Liturgy Calendar.
Ordinary Time of the Year. (B)
Weekdays – Year 2 – then Weekdays of Lenten Season
Sunday 11th February: Sixth Sunday of the Year. (B)
The law described in the first reading from the Book of Leviticus, existed to protect the community but it meant that, once a person had been diagnosed as a leper by the priest, according the Law of Moses, that person became unclean and was forced to live apart from the community with no contact whatsoever.
St. Paul, writing to the Corinthians in the second reading, sets the standards very high. Do everything for the glory of God he tells them, think about others and imitate Christ.
In the Gospel, Jesus touches and cures a leper – regarded as unclean- and in so doing breaks a serious religious taboo. He breaks down barriers that have existed for centuries. This brings unwanted attention on himself.
Monday 12th February: Tuesday in the 6th week of the year.
The Old Testament story is laid aside for a few weeks and we turn to the New Testament and to the Letter of St. James. He stresses throughout his letter perseverance in the following of the newfound Christ and the importance of following the lifestyle laid down in the Gospels. He stresses the close link between faith in God and love of neighbour. In this first extract, we are told how perseverance will lead to spiritual maturity.
The Pharisees are getting angry with Jesus and with their failure to catch him out. They cannot respond to his wisdom and his insights when they tackle him. Now they decide they want a sign from him that he is the Messiah.
Tuesday 13th February: Tuesday in the 6th week of the year.
James now encourages his readers to persevere in the face of the challenges and temptations that will come their way, reminding them loyalty to Christ leads to glory.
Jesus again confronts the weakness of the faith of the disciples. They are constantly looking for material rewards. He tells them to look beyond that.
The Season of Lent.
Wednesday 14th February: Ash Wednesday
A day of Fasting and Abstinence.
During Lent, several key themes are constantly put before us. Prayer, fasting and almsgiving, repentance, forgiveness and the mercy of God, dying to sin, rising to new life are the recurring messages that we are asked to reflect on during our Lenten journey.
Today, we reminded of the call to repentance and prayer. The need to undergo a complete conversion experience, which is both internal and external, is stressed. St. Paul makes the blunt appeal in Jesus’ name – be reconciled to God now for it is the favourable time.
When performed sincerely, good deeds were a very real sign of holiness and prayer. All too often, however they were done to attract human praise and attention. Jesus warns against this happening in the lives of his followers. What matters above all is our interior attitude and sincerity before God.
Thursday 15th February: Thursday after Ash Wednesday.
The first reading is from the words of Moses in the Book of Deuteronomy. A stark choice is given. Follow the commandments that God has given to his people and you will live in the love of the lord. Turn away through sin and you will die.
In the Gospel, Jesus is preparing his disciples for his forthcoming suffering and death. The true follower will also find that serving the Lord brings with it many difficulties and obstacles. Jesus message is straightforward – ‘pick up your cross and follow me; do not be ashamed of me.’
Friday 16th February: Friday after Ash Wednesday.
This passage is from the period after the exile. Fasting, no matter how public, is useless unless it accompanied by justice towards others. You must also share what you have with those who are in need.
By contrast, with John’s disciples and the Pharisees, Jesus disciples appear lax. Jesus reply is both simple and complex. They are celebrating because he is with them but the time will come when he is not and then they will fast.
Saturday 17th February: Saturday after Ash Wednesday
If you avoid injustice, if you share with those are in need, the Lord will guide you through the darkness. Integrity before God cannot be divorced from integrity in human relationships.
Jesus visits the home of the tax collector – Levi. In spite of his profession, he is able far more easily than the scribes and Pharisees to recognise Christ. His response is total. He left what he was doing immediately and started following Jesus.
‘Find out how much God has given you
And from it
Take what you need;
The remainder is needed by others’