Theme of the Sunday: NO RELIGIOUS PUBLICITY
First Reading: Joel 2:12-18;
Responsorial: Psalm 103;
Second Reading: 2 Corinthians 5:20–6:2;
Gospel: Matthew 6:1-6.16-18;
*The Sunday Missal, Paulines Publications Africa
This is the first day of a liturgical journey. During Lent all disciples of Jesus renew themselves spiritually, draw closer to God and are more attentive to the needs of others. It is a time of conversion, of sharing, of listening more attentively to the Word of God, of listening to God in prayer, of adjusting one’s life to what God really expects of us as his beloved children.
Today’s Gospel insists on the fact that God is a Father who sees what is done in secret and who rewards them (Mt 6:4,6,8,18). It is an important theme in the Gospel of Matthew. The life of a disciple of Jesus is supposed to give glory to the Father in heaven (Mt 5: 16), who loves all his children, good and bad alike (Mt 5:45). He knows their needs and he takes care of them (Mt 6:32). His children are invited to imitate him. (Mt 5:48). The “Our Father” expresses this basic attitude of trust of the disciples of Jesus who recognise that they owe everything to God.
The Lenten journey is a time of entrusting oneself more and more to the care of this God who knows what is happening in the heart of each of us (Ps 139). He knows what motivates us and rewards us even before we ask. If we really see God as our Father and trust Him with the simplicity of a child, we will not be anxious or worried about tomorrow. Even when suffering hits us and our problems seem more than we can cope with, we can know peace and serenity, because we know God is our Father and He is always with us. Leave all your worries with Him, because he cares for you” (1 Pet 5:7).
***Adapted from “Bible Study and Sharing on the GOSPEL OF MATTHEW for Christian Communities SUNDAYS OF THE YEAR A” by Richard Baawobr MAfr
We pray for the people of Eswatini (Swaziland)
“Tear your hearts and not your garments.”
A reading from the Book of the Prophet Joel
“Even now,” says the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and tear your hearts and not your garments.” Return to the Lord, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in mercy, and repents of evil. Who knows whether he will not turn and repent, and leave a blessing behind him, a cereal offering and a drink offering for the Lord, your God? Blow the trumpet in Zion; sanctify a fast; call a solemn assembly; gather the people. Sanctify the congregation; assemble the elders; gather the children, even nursing infants. Let the bridegroom leave his room, and the bride her chamber. Between the vestibule and the altar let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep and say, “Spare your people, O Lord, and make not your heritage a reproach, a byword among the nations. Why should they say among the peoples, ‘Where is their God?’” Then the Lord became jealous for his land, and had pity on his people.The word of the Lord.
Have mercy, O Lord, for we have sinned.
Have mercy on me, O God, according to your merciful love; according to your great compassion, blot out my transgressions. Wash me completely from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. R.Have mercy, O Lord, for we have sinned.
My transgressions, truly I know them; my sin is always before me. Against you, you alone, have I sinned; what is evil in your sight I have done. R.Have mercy, O Lord, for we have sinned.
Create a pure heart for me, O God; renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from your presence; take not your holy spirit from me. R.Have mercy, O Lord, for we have sinned.
Restore in me the joy of your salvation; sustain in me a willing spirit. O Lord, open my lips and my mouth shall proclaim your praise. R.Have mercy, O Lord, for we have sinned.
“Be reconciled to God. Behold, now is the acceptable time.”
A reading from the second Letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians
Brethren: We are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. Working together with him, then, we entreat you not to accept the grace of God in vain. For he says, “At the acceptable time I have listened to you, and helped you on the day of salvation.” Behold, now is the acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.The word of the Lord.
Glory and praise to you, O Christ. Today, harden not your hearts, but listen to the voice of the Lord. Glory and praise to you, O Christ.
GOSPEL READING Matthew 6:1-6.16-18
“Your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”A reading from the holy Gospel according to Matthew
At that time: Jesus said to his disciples, “Beware of practicing your piety before men in order to be seen by them; for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. “Thus, when you give alms, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by men. Truly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. “And when you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by men but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”The Gospel of the Lord.