Lenten Reflection – 16 March – Saturday of the First week of Lent, Year C, Gospel: Matthew 5:43–48
Blessed Titus Brandsma (1881-1942) Martyr
“But I say to you… pray for those who persecute you”
You have often heard it said that we are living through a marvellous time, a time of great men… It is easy to understand why people long for a strong and capable leader to arise… This kind of neo-paganism [Nazism] believes all nature to be an emanation of the divine…; it admires a race that is nobler and purer than any other… From this comes the cult of race and blood, the cult of its own people’s heroes.
By starting out from so mistaken an idea, this view of things can lead to capital errors. It is tragic to see how much enthusiasm, how many efforts are placed at the service of such an erroneous and baseless ideal! However, we can learn from our enemy. We can learn from his deceitful philosophy how to purify and improve our own ideal, we can learn how to develop great love for this ideal, how to arouse immense enthusiasm and even a readiness to live and die for it, how to strengthen our hearts to incarnate it in ourselves and in others…
When we talk about the coming of the Kingdom and pray for its coming, we are not thinking of a discrimination according to race or blood but of the brotherhood of all, for all men are our brothers – not excluding even those who hate and attack us – in a close bond with the One, who causes the sun to rise on the good and the bad alike (Mt 5:45).
Turn our hearts to You.
The Saturdays of Lent have a grateful and uplifting tone to them.
Our lesson today reminds us of the covenant God made long ago:
you be My people
and I will be your God.
In the new covenant, without condition,
God is faithful to us, even if we are not.
Jesus calls us to a new way of being –
loving others as we have been loved –
which includes loving those who do not love us.
We are to be as pure in our love,
as God is pure in loving us.
You, therefore, must be perfect,
as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Sometimes my heart
turns in every direction
except towards You.
Please help me
to turn my heart toward You,
to gaze upon You in trust
and to seek Your kingdom with all of my heart.
Soften my hardened heart
so that I might love others
as a way to glorify and worship You.
Grant me this
with the ever-present guidance of Your spirit.
May the Lord bless us,
protect us from all evil
and bring us to everlasting life.
Christ’s martyrs feared neither death nor pain. He triumphed in them who lived in them; and they, who lived not for themselves but for Him, found in death itself the way to life.”