DAILY MASS READINGS (March 20, 2020)

FRIDAY OF THE 3RD WEEK OF LENT (CYCLE A, Violet)

Reading 1 (HOSEA 14:2-10)

A reading from the Book of the Prophet Hosea

Thus says the LORD:
Return, O Israel, to the LORD, your God;
you have collapsed through your guilt.
Take with you words,
and return to the LORD;
Say to him, “Forgive all iniquity,
and receive what is good, that we may render
as offerings the bullocks from our stalls.
Assyria will not save us,
nor shall we have horses to mount;
We shall say no more, ‘Our god,’
to the work of our hands;
for in you the orphan finds compassion.”

I will heal their defection, says the LORD,
I will love them freely;
for my wrath is turned away from them.
I will be like the dew for Israel:
he shall blossom like the lily;
He shall strike root like the Lebanon cedar,
and put forth his shoots.
His splendor shall be like the olive tree
and his fragrance like the Lebanon cedar.
Again they shall dwell in his shade
and raise grain;
They shall blossom like the vine,
and his fame shall be like the wine of Lebanon.

Ephraim! What more has he to do with idols?
I have humbled him, but I will prosper him.
“I am like a verdant cypress tree”– 
Because of me you bear fruit!

Let him who is wise understand these things;
let him who is prudent know them.
Straight are the paths of the LORD,
in them the just walk,
but sinners stumble in them.

– The word of the Lord.

Responsorial Psalm (PSALM 81:6C-8A, 8BC-9, 10-11AB, 14 AND 17)

R. (see 11 and 9a)  I am the Lord your God: hear my voice.
An unfamiliar speech I hear:
“I relieved his shoulder of the burden;
his hands were freed from the basket.
In distress you called, and I rescued you.”
R. I am the Lord your God: hear my voice.
“Unseen, I answered you in thunder;
I tested you at the waters of Meribah.
Hear, my people, and I will admonish you;
O Israel, will you not hear me?”
R. I am the Lord your God: hear my voice.
“There shall be no strange god among you
 nor shall you worship any alien god.
I, the LORD, am your God
who led you forth from the land of Egypt.”
R. I am the Lord your God: hear my voice.
“If only my people would hear me,
and Israel walk in my ways,
I would feed them with the best of wheat,
and with honey from the rock I would fill them.”
R. I am the Lord your God: hear my voice.

Verse Before The Gospel (MATTHEW 4:17)

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

Repent, says the Lord;
the Kingdom of heaven is at hand.

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

Gospel (MARK 12:28-34)

A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Mark

One of the scribes came to Jesus and asked him,
“Which is the first of all the commandments?”
Jesus replied, “The first is this:
Hear, O Israel!
The Lord our God is Lord alone!
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, 
with all your soul, 
with all your mind, 
and with all your strength.

The second is this:
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
There is no other commandment greater than these.”
The scribe said to him, “Well said, teacher.
You are right in saying,
He is One and there is no other than he.
And to love him with all your heart,
with all your understanding, 
with all your strength,
and to love your neighbor as yourself

is worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”
And when Jesus saw that he answered with understanding,
he said to him,
“You are not far from the Kingdom of God.”
And no one dared to ask him any more questions.

– The Gospel of the Lord.

Reflection: In the Gospel (Mark 12:28-34), one of the scribes asked Jesus on which is the greatest of all commandments. This was a test given to him by the leaders, but Jesus knew the whole matter. He replied by summarizing the Ten Commandments into two important concepts. First, he quotes the Shema, Israel (Hear, O Israel), that is to say, loving God above all things. That is why the Responsorial Psalm reminds us to hear the voice of the Lord, our God, as we keep his precepts in love of him. Second, he quotes another passage, which is loving our neighbors as ourselves. So after hearing this, the scribe was very pleased with his answer. And he makes a good interpretation of what the Lord had said. As a result, Jesus commended that man for his understanding, and no one asked him anymore questions.
My dear brothers and sisters, the two greatest commandments are to love God and love our neighbor. That is why the recently-concluded Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy invited us to experience God’s mercy and share that mercy to others in our everyday lives. We are challenged to be merciful like the Father, and to follow the perfect example, Jesus Christ himself. If we love God, then we should also love our neighbor as we love ourselves. This should be done in words, devotions, actions, experiences, and elements of surprise. The Apostle Saint John reminds us: “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ but hates his brother, he is a liar; for whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen” (1 John 4:20). So as we journey down this Lenten road, let us observe the two greatest commandments both by speech and by deed.

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