St John of God (1495 – 1550)
He was born to a poor but devout family in Portugal in 1495. After serving as a soldier, he founded a hospital in Granada and a circle of disciples formed round him, which later became the Order of Hospitallers.
Entrance Antiphon: Ps 29: 11
The Lord heard and had mercy on me; the Lord became my helper.
Show gracious favour, O Lord, we pray, to the works of penance we have begun, that we may have strength to accomplish with sincerity the bodily observances we undertake. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
First reading: Isaiah 58:1-9a
Thus says the Lord Shout for all you are worth, raise your voice like a trumpet. Proclaim their faults to my people, their sins to the House of Jacob. They seek me day after day, they long to know my ways, like a nation that wants to act with integrity and not ignore the law of its God. They ask me for laws that are just, they long for God to draw near: ‘Why should we fast if you never see it, why do penance if you never notice?’ Look, you do business on your fast-days, you oppress all your workmen; look, you quarrel and squabble when you fast and strike the poor man with your fist. Fasting like yours today will never make your voice heard on high. Is that the sort of fast that pleases me, a truly penitential day for men? Hanging your head like a reed, lying down on sackcloth and ashes? Is that what you call fasting, a day acceptable to the Lord? Is not this the sort of fast that pleases me – it is the Lord who speaks –to break unjust fetters and undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and break every yoke, to share your bread with the hungry, and shelter the homeless poor, to clothe the man you see to be naked and not turn from your own kin? Then will your light shine like the dawn and your wound be quickly healed over. Your integrity will go before you and the glory of the Lord behind you. Cry, and the Lord will answer; call, and he will say, ‘I am here.’
Psalm 50 (51):3-6, 18-19
R/ A humbled, contrite heart, O God, you will not spurn.
1)Have mercy on me, God, in your kindness. In your compassion blot out my offence. O wash me more and more from my guilt and cleanse me from my sin.
2) My offences 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.
3) For in sacrifice you take no delight, burnt offering from me you would refuse, my sacrifice, a contrite spirit. A humbled, contrite heart you will not spurn.
Gospel Acclamation: cf. Ps. 129:5, 7
Glory and praise to you, O Christ! My soul is waiting for the Lord, I count on his word, because with the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption. Glory and praise to you, O Christ!
Gospel: Matthew 9:14-15
John’s disciples came to Jesus and said, ‘Why is it that we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not?’ Jesus replied, ‘Surely the bridegroom’s attendants would never think of mourning as long as the bridegroom is still with them? But the time will come for the bridegroom to be taken away from them, and then they will fast.’
Prayer over the Offerings
We offer, O Lord, the sacrifice of our Lenten observance, praying that it may make our intentions acceptable to you and add to our powers of self-restraint. Through Christ our Lord.
Communion Antiphon: Ps. 24: 4
O Lord, make me know your ways, teach me your paths.
Prayer after Communion
We pray, almighty God, that, through partaking of this mystery, we may be cleansed of all our misdeeds, and so be suited for the remedies of your compassion. Through Christ our Lord.
Prayer over the People
For your mighty deeds, O God of mercy, may your people offer endless thanks, and, by observing the age-old disciplines along their pilgrim journey, may they merit to come and behold you for ever. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
When this Gospel is read, one beautiful biblical text comes into mind: “Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding feast of the lamb” (Rev 19:9). Today’s Gospel distinguishes between two periods; that of joy which signifies the presence of bridegroom who is Jesus, and that of mourning which signifies his absence. Looking at these periods, the important one is the period of joy and excitement when the bridegroom is still mingling with the attendants in the wedding party. Who in his right mind can fast at a time like this? Anyone who would fast would be identified as someone’s else follower not a follower of Jesus, because in the eyes of the disciples of Jesus, just as joy has its time, mourning too has its time; but that time is not now!