St John of Egypt (304 – 394)
A hermit in a cave, he lived a very strict life of prayer and manual work. People visited him, since he was able to perform miracles, heal the sick and read people’s hearts. He died in 394, at the age of 90.
Entrance Antiphon: Cf. Ps 118: 133
Let my steps be guided by your promise; may evil never rule me.
Grant, we pray, O Lord, that, schooled through Lenten observance and nourished by your word, through holy restraint we may be devoted to you with all our heart and be ever united in prayer. 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: Deuteronomy 4:1,5-9
Moses said to the people: ‘Now, Israel, take notice of the laws and customs that I teach you today, and observe them, that you may have life and may enter and take possession of the land that the Lord the God of your fathers is giving you. ‘See, as the Lord my God has commanded me, I teach you the laws and customs that you are to observe in the land you are to enter and make your own. Keep them, observe them, and they will demonstrate to the peoples your wisdom and understanding. When they come to know of all these laws they will exclaim, “No other people is as wise and prudent as this great nation.” And indeed, what great nation is there that has its gods so near as the Lord our God is to us whenever we call to him? And what great nation is there that has laws and customs to match this whole Law that I put before you today? ‘But take care what you do and be on your guard. Do not forget the things your eyes have seen, nor let them slip from your heart all the days of your life; rather, tell them to your children and to your children’s children.’
Psalm 147:12-13, 15-16, 19-20
R/ O praise the Lord, Jerusalem!
1) praise the Lord, Jerusalem! Zion, praise your God! He has strengthened the bars of your gates he has blessed the children within you.
2) He sends out his word to the earth and swiftly runs his command. He showers down snow white as wool, he scatters hoar-frost like ashes.
3) He makes his word known to Jacob, to Israel his laws and decrees. He has not dealt thus with other nations; he has not taught them his decrees.
Gospel Acclamation: Jn 8:12
Glory to you, O Christ, you are the Word of God! I am the light of the world, says the Lord; anyone who follows me will have the light of life. Glory to you, O Christ, you are the Word of God!
Gospel: Matthew 5:17-19
Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Do not imagine that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I have come not to abolish but to complete them. I tell you solemnly, till heaven and earth disappear, not one dot, not one little stroke, shall disappear from the Law until its purpose is achieved. Therefore, the man who infringes even one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be considered the least in the kingdom of heaven; but the man who keeps them and teaches them will be considered great in the kingdom of heaven.’
Prayer over the Offerings
Accept, O Lord, we pray, the prayers of your people along with these sacrificial offerings, and defend those who celebrate your mysteries from every kind of danger. Through Christ our Lord.
Communion Antiphon: Cf. Ps. 15: 11
You will show me the path of life, the fullness of joy in your presence, O Lord.
Prayer after Communion
May the heavenly banquet, at which we have been fed, sanctify us, O Lord, and, cleansing us of all errors, make us worthy of your promises from on high. Through Christ our Lord.
Prayer over the People
Give to your people, our God, a resolve that is pleasing to you, for, by conforming them to your teachings, you bestow on them every favour. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Many Jews may have started to give Jesus a sinister look as they listened to his teaching. But the part of the Sermon on the Mount about not abolishing the Law but rather completing it surely won their hearts. A biblical scholar called Richard Gardner puts it perfectly: For Matthew, the Law remains valid until all that the Law intends is fully revealed in Jesus’ teaching and fully reflected in Jesus’ community. We should therefore keep all the commandments of God without exception and teach others to do the same. Obeying the commandments and teaching them to others go hand-in-hand; we should start by keeping the commandments ourselves, and then we should invite others by our words and example to do the same.