Fri, 6 March 2020
O blessed martyrs
who willingly and happily
suffered a cruel death
by the teeth of beasts
and the point of a sword,
all for love of Jesus –
how can we match your faith;
where shall we find the strength
in ecstasy at tortures
devised by the wicked of this earth,
and can we call ourselves Christian otherwise?
Pray for us, dear martyrs,
that the Lord will bless us
with such favor
as you have known
and we, too, will be enabled
to stand in joy
even in the face of the severest persecution,
even at the time of our death…
even then may Heaven be with us.
Fri, 6 March 2020
(Dt.26:16-19; Ps.119:1-2,4-5,7-8; Mt.5:43-48)
“You will be a people sacred to the Lord, your God.”
The promise made to the Israelites through Moses is also a command, and is fulfilled in the command of Jesus.
In our first reading Moses tells the people the Lord will raise them “high in praise and renown and glory above all other nations,” but makes it clear that this shall be so only as long as they “walk in His ways and observe His statutes, commandments, and decrees” – only if they “hearken to His voice.” For His law is as food to the body and light to the mind and must be observed carefully, “with all [our] heart and with all [our] soul,” to maintain the presence of God in our lives. If “He is to be [our] God,” we must do as He commands.
Thus our psalmist sings of the happiness of those “who observe His decrees, who seek Him with all their heart.” Thus does he cry out in longing, “Oh, that I might be firm in the ways of keeping your statutes!” for he knows in them is life. To “walk in the way of the Lord” is his joy.
And that joy is made complete, our life is made whole, by the new command of love Jesus imparts to our soul. The Lord fulfills the Law of Moses, which gave light to the people, by commanding us not to love only our “countryman” but all: “Love your enemies, pray for your persecutors.” Here is His challenge for us to “prove that [we] are sons of our heavenly Father,” to love as He loves, to know the greatness of His glory, therefore, in our very lives. If the psalmist cried out in such joy at the blessing found in following the Law of Moses, what indescribable joy is ours when we follow Jesus’ words. What greater call can we have than to “be made perfect as [our] heavenly Father is perfect”? What greater merit and blessing could there be? None. For He is Life itself, and here we are called to live with Him.
“His sun rises on the bad and the good, He rains on the just and the unjust.” Nothing dims God’s holy light or stems the blessings He showers upon all. In absolute light, in absolute love, the Father dwells, in the heavenly kingdom; and if we can love as He loves, as Jesus has loved, we shall know such blessing. Love even those who hate you and you will be as the Father, who knows only love, and you will become sacred to Him – you will be saints in His kingdom.
O LORD, if we follow your way with our whole heart,
we shall come to where you are, in Heaven.
YHWH, what can we be but blessed if we heed your commands and walk in your way, for then we will be like you, who are most blessed of all? O to be a people sacred to you! O to love as you love!
What greater blessing can we know, O LORD, than to love as you love, to love all, even our enemies? What blessing it would be to know such absolute love, to live such absolute love – then we would be living with you; then we would be living in you. You shine like the sun upon all creatures… Let us live in your light this day.
Your Word is light to us, LORD; your commands are truth. And by them you would lead us to all truth, to all love – by them you would lead us to yourself. And your greatest command is to love our enemies, a command your Son embodies. Let us join with Him in keeping this Word and so live in your heavenly presence.