THURSDAY 23 febRuary
He was a disciple of the Apostles. He bears witness to the beliefs of the early Christians and the early stages of the development of doctrine. He was martyred in about 155.
Entrance Antiphon: Cf. Ps 54: 17-20, 23
When I cried to the Lord, he heard my voice; he rescued me from those who attack me. Entrust your cares to the Lord, and he will support you.
Prompt our actions with your inspiration, we pray, O Lord, and further them with your constant help, that all we do may always begin from you and by you be brought to completion. 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 30: 15-20
Moses said to the people: “See, today I set before you life and prosperity, death and disaster. If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I enjoin on you today, if you love the Lord your God and follow his ways, if you keep his commandments, his laws, his customs, you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land which you are entering to make your own. But if your heart strays, if you refuse to listen, if you let yourself be drawn into worshipping other gods and serving them, I tell you today, you will most certainly perish; you will not live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess. I call heaven and earth to witness against you today: I set before you life or death, blessing or curse. Choose life, then, so that you and your descendants may live, in the love of the Lord your God, obeying his voice, clinging to him; for in this your life consists, and on this depends your long stay in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob he would give them.”
Psalm 1: 1-4, 6
R/Happy the man who has placed his trust in the Lord.
Happy indeed is the man who follows not the counsel of the wicked; nor lingers in the way of sinners nor sits in the company of scorners, but whose delight is the law of the Lord and who ponders his law, day and night.
He is like a tree that is planted beside the flowing waters, that yields its fruit in due season and whose leaves shall never fade; and all that he does shall prosper.
Not so are the wicked, not so! For they like winnowed chaff shall be driven away by the wind. For the Lord guards the way of the just but the way of the wicked leads to doom.
Gospel Acclamation: Ps 50: 12, 14
Praise and honour to you, Lord Jesus! A pure heart create for me, O God, and give me again the joy of your help. Praise and honour to you, Lord Jesus!
Gospel: Luke 9: 22-25
Jesus said to his disciples: “The Son of Man is destined to suffer grievously, to be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes and to be put to death, and to be raised up on the third day.” Then to all he said, “If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross every day and follow me. For anyone who wants to save his life will lose it; but anyone who loses his life for my sake, that man will save it. What gain, then, is it for a man to have won the whole world and to have lost or ruined his very self?”
Prayer over the Offerings
Regard with favour, O Lord, we pray, the offerings we set upon this sacred altar, that, bestowing on us your pardon, our oblations may give honour to your name. Through Christ our Lord.
Communion Antiphon: Cf. Ps 50: 12
Create a pure heart for me, O God; renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Prayer after Communion
Having received the blessing of your heavenly gifts, we humbly beseech you, almighty God, that they may always be for us a source, both of pardon and of salvation. Through Christ our Lord.
Prayer over the People
Almighty God, who have made known to your people the ways of eternal life, lead them by that path, we pray to you, the unfading light. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Deuteronomy sees fidelity as the key to the future of God’s people. “By walking in his ways, you shall live” Moses says, “but if your heart turns away and you do not hear, you shall perish!” In his final address to the people whom he has led out of slavery into the Promised Land, Moses makes the heartfelt appeal: “Choose life!” As we enter Lent, we are called upon to choose life. Jesus tells his disciples that he will be rejected, suffer greatly and ultimately, be killed by the chief priests and scribes. The reaction of his friends to these words is shock, fear, sadness, confusion. One who had told them that his purpose was “that they may have life and have it to the full” (John 10:10) was now saying that his friends must share in his death and carry their cross with him. We ought to see that there is paradox between these two statements, but not contradiction. If we want to be followers of Jesus, we must be ready for some measure of self-sacrifice. Lent is traditionally a time for self-denial. If there is some misguided attachment holding us back, or some habit that is not for our good, this is the favourable time for us to meditate on it and make a change.