DAILY MASS READINGS (February 26, 2020)

ASH WEDNESDAY [UNIVERSAL DAY OF FASTING AND ABSTINENCE] (CYCLE A, Violet)

Reading 1 (JOEL 2:12-18)

A reading from the Book of the Prophet Joel

Even now, says the LORD,
return to me with your whole heart,
with fasting, and weeping, and mourning;
Rend your hearts, not your garments,
and return to the LORD, your God.
For gracious and merciful is he,
slow to anger, rich in kindness,
and relenting in punishment.
Perhaps he will again relent
and leave behind him a blessing,
Offerings and libations
for the LORD, your God.

Blow the trumpet in Zion!
proclaim a fast,
call an assembly;
Gather the people,
notify the congregation;
Assemble the elders,
gather the children
and the infants at the breast;
Let the bridegroom quit his room
and the bride her chamber.
Between the porch and the altar
let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep,
And say, “Spare, O LORD, your people,
and make not your heritage a reproach,
with the nations ruling over them!
Why should they say among the peoples,
‘Where is their God?'”

Then the LORD was stirred to concern for his land
and took pity on his people.

– The word of the Lord.

Responsorial Psalm (PSALM 51:3-4, 5-6AB, 12-13, 14 AND 17)

R. (see 3a)  Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.
Have mercy on me, O God, in your goodness;
in the greatness of your compassion wipe out my offense.
Thoroughly wash me from my guilt
and of my sin cleanse me.
R. Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.
For I acknowledge my offense,
and my sin is before me always:
“Against you only have I sinned,
and done what is evil in your sight.”
R. Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.
A clean heart create for me, O God,
and a steadfast spirit renew within me.
Cast me not out from your presence,
and your Holy Spirit take not from me.
R. Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.
Give me back the joy of your salvation,
and a willing spirit sustain in me.
O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth shall proclaim your praise.
R. Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.


Reading 2 (2 CORINTHIANS 5:20—6:2)

A reading from the 2nd Letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians

Brothers and sisters:
We are ambassadors for Christ,
as if God were appealing through us.
We implore you on behalf of Christ,
be reconciled to God.
For our sake he made him to be sin who did not know sin, 
so that we might become the righteousness of God in him.

Working together, then,
we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain.
For he says:

In an acceptable time I heard you,
and on the day of salvation I helped you.

Behold, now is a very acceptable time;
behold, now is the day of salvation.

– The word of the Lord.

Verse Before The Gospel (SEE PSALM 95:8)

(Glory and praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.)

If today you hear his voice,
harden not your hearts.

(Glory and praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.)


Gospel (MATTHEW 6:1-6, 16-18)

A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Matthew

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Take care not to perform righteous deeds
in order that people may see them;
otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father.
When you give alms,
do not blow a trumpet before you,
as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets
to win the praise of others.
Amen, I say to you,
they have received their reward.
But when you give alms,
do not let your left hand know what your right is doing,
so that your almsgiving may be secret.
And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

“When you pray,
do not be like the hypocrites,
who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners
so that others may see them.
Amen, I say to you,
they have received their reward.
But when you pray, go to your inner room,
close the door, and pray to your Father in secret.
And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

“When you fast,
do not look gloomy like the hypocrites.
They neglect their appearance,
so that they may appear to others to be fasting.
Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.
But when you fast,
anoint your head and wash your face,
so that you may not appear to be fasting,
except to your Father who is hidden.
And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.”

– The Gospel of the Lord.

Reflection: Ash Wednesday opens the annual Season of Lent. On this day, we receive ashes on our foreheads to remind us that we came from dust, and to dust we shall return. This means that we have to make a good use of our lives while we are still living because life is limited, wherein there is a beginning and an end. Lent is the time to manifest the 3 Forms of Penance: (1) Fasting (along with Abstinence), (2) Prayer, and (3) Almsgiving. During the old times, these three acts were done publicly, wherein people can see them. But in the Gospel (Matthew 6:1-6, 15-18), our Lord Jesus Christ warns us of pride and self-righteousness. There are many people who are devoted and dedicated. Some are even in higher positions of leadership. But these kinds of characteristics can lead to sins and hypocrisies like scandals and crimes. In other cases, we tend to put down others because we want to make ourselves higher than them. One time, a man approached a Priest and said to him, “Father, I cannot go to Church because it is full of hypocrites.” The Priest replied, “My son, there is room for more.” We tend to argue or complain about our daily sufferings because we don’t want to experience these kind of trials and difficulties. But we don’t realize that these are all part of sacrifices because we sow the fruits of labor to gain our daily needs. Lent is the time to honor the redeeming work of our Lord Jesus Christ, the ultimate sacrifice that brought the love of our Lord God to the world. By his suffering, he taught us to endure our daily sufferings and strengthen our faith, just as how he fulfilled the will of the Father. He didn’t proclaim that he was the Messiah because he humbly showed signs and miracles to reveal to the people who he was. He does not desire to be a king of miracles, but a king of suffering and a man of sorrows. So when we do righteous deeds, we do not need to make a public display, rather we must do these things with a sincere and humble heart, especially the 3 Forms of Penance. As we journey down this Lenten road, let us perform acts of kindness and charity to others and return to the Lord with our sincere and humble hearts.

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