Entrance Antiphon: Cf. Ps 24: 17-18
Set me free from my distress, O Lord. See my lowliness and suffering, and take away all my sins.
Grant that your faithful, O Lord, we pray, may be so conformed to the paschal observances, that the bodily discipline now solemnly begun may bear fruit in the souls of all. 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: Ezekiel 18:21-28
Thus says the Lord: ‘If the wicked man renounces all the sins he has committed, respects my laws and is law-abiding and honest, he will certainly live; he will not die. All the sins he committed will be forgotten from then on; he shall live because of the integrity he has practised. What! Am I likely to take pleasure in the death of a wicked man – it is the Lord who speaks – and not prefer to see him renounce his wickedness and live? ‘But if the upright man renounces his integrity, commits sin, copies the wicked man and practises every kind of filth, is he to live? All the integrity he has practised shall be forgotten from then on; but this is because he himself has broken faith and committed sin, and for this he shall die. But you object, “What the Lord does is unjust.” Listen, you House of Israel: is what I do unjust? Is it not what you do that is unjust? When the upright man renounces his integrity to commit sin and dies because of this, he dies because of the evil that he himself has committed. When the sinner renounces sin to become law-abiding and honest, he deserves to live. He has chosen to renounce all his previous sins; he shall certainly live; he shall not die.’
R/ If you, O Lord, should mark our guilt, Lord, who would survive?
- Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord, Lord, hear my voice! O let your ears be attentive to the voice of my pleading.
- If you, O Lord, should mark our guilt, Lord, who would survive? But with you is found forgiveness: for this we revere you.
- My soul is waiting for the Lord. I count on his word. My soul is longing for the Lord more than watchman for daybreak. (Let the watchman count on daybreak and Israel on the Lord.)
- Because with the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption, Israel indeed he will redeem from all its iniquity.
Gospel Acclamation: cf.Amos5:14
Praise to you, O Christ, king of eternal glory! Seek good and not evil so that you may live, and that the Lord God of hosts may really be with you. Praise to you, O Christ, king of eternal glory!
Gospel: Matthew 5:20-26
Jesus said to his disciples, If your virtue goes no deeper than that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never get into the kingdom of heaven. ‘You have learnt how it was said to our ancestors: You must not kill; and if anyone does kill he must answer for it before the court. But I say this to you: anyone who is angry with his brother will answer for it before the court; if a man calls his brother “Fool” he will answer for it before the Sanhedrin; and if a man calls him “Renegade” he will answer for it in hell fire. So then, if you are bringing your offering to the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar, go and be reconciled with your brother first, and then come back and present your offering. Come to terms with your opponent in good time while you are still on the way to the court with him, or he may hand you over to the judge and the judge to the officer, and you will be thrown into prison. I tell you solemnly, you will not get out till you have paid the last penny.’
Prayer over the Offerings
Accept the sacrificial offerings, O Lord, by which, in your power and kindness, you willed us to be reconciled to yourself and our salvation to be restored. Through Christ our Lord.
Communion Antiphon: Ez 33: 11
As I live, says the Lord, I do not desire the death of the sinner, but rather that he turn back and live.
Prayer after Communion
May the holy refreshment of your Sacrament restore us anew, O Lord, and, cleansing us of old ways, take us up into the mystery of salvation. Through Christ our Lord.
Prayer over the People
Look with favour on your people, O Lord, that what their observance outwardly declares it may inwardly bring about. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Do you bear grudges? A grudge is a persistent feeling of ill will or resentment resulting from a past insult or injury from an adversary. Jesus is talking about holding onto grudges, anger, hurt and perhaps even hate. I know most of us do not hate someone. However, I also know we have dealt with grudges, anger, hurt and jealousy at various times in our lives. These are emotions that we all have. They are “part and parcel” of human life, and St. Paul will name them as sins against the Spirit. These emotions that we consider negative are as much part of us as are virtues such as love, gratitude, appreciation, hope, understanding and faith! We humanly experience both ends of the spectrum of emotions: positive and negative. Today Jesus is talking about the choice we all have to make. We can choose to focus on the positive that make us feel good: love, hope, generosity and faith; or on what disturbs and upsets us: anger, jealousy, etc. Our Lenten mortifications will help us make choices that save.