FRIDAY AFTER ASH WEDNESDAY
GOSPEL. ST. MATH, v, 43, vi, 1-4.
(True Love of our Neighbor and Good Works. Love of Jesus for His Enemies on Mt. Olivet.)
At that time Jesus said to His disciples: You have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thy enemy: but I say to you, Love your enemies: do good to them that hate you: and pray for them that persecute and calumniate you: that you may be children of your Father Who is in heaven, Who maketh His sun to rise upon the good and bad, and raineth upon the just and unjust. For if you love them that love you, what reward shall you have? Do not even the publicans this? And if you salute your brethren only, what do you more, do not also the heathens this? Be ye therefore perfect, as also your heavenly Father is perfect. Take heed that you do not your justice before men, to be seen by them; otherwise you shall not have a reward of your Father, Who is in heaven. Therefore when thou dost an almsdeed, sound not a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be honored by men. Amen I say to you, they have received their reward. But when thou dost alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doth, that thy alms may be in secret, and thy Father Who seeth in secret, will repay thee.
Christian Soul! The gospel teaches you that you cannot give God a better proof of your love than by you practicing love towards your enemy, since this is the most difficult part in the commandment of the love of our neighbor. Besides this is the best means to obtain the forgiveness of sins and the grace of God, and to become children of God forever. Our Lord says: "Forgive and you will be forgiven;" hence, the love of our neighbor is an unfailing sign of election.
But no one ever practiced this virtue so eminently as our Savior Whose heart, even in the midst of the greatest sufferings, was penetrated with this spirit of love.
Contemplate Jesus in the Garden of Olives. He began to grow sorrowful and to fear, to tremble and to shudder, and he said to His disciples: "My soul is sorrowful even unto death." Why is this? He sees all the insults and torments that await Him; all the sins of men, their crimes, their guilt and punishment are weighing Him down, and finally He sees the uselessness of His passion and death for countless men who, in spite of this love, will be lost forever. Still He enters courageously upon His suffering. What God-like love for one’s enemies! And where is your love of your neighbor? And what is your behavior towards your enemies, in thought, words and deeds?
Ask God for the grace to bear patiently and courageously all trials and adversities in union with the passion of Jesus Christ; pray to Him for your enemies, and pray for the conversion of sinners.
LET US PRAY.
We beseech Thee, O Lord, assist us in the fast which we have undertaken, that we may be able to practice with a pure heart what we are observing with the body.
We beseech Thee, O God, look down with gracious complacency upon our fasting so that we may be enabled to practice with a pure heart the abstinence which we are observing with the body, and so that we may imitate Jesus, the suffering Savior, Thy divine Son, in His patience and love for His enemies. Amen.