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Wednesday, March 7, 2018

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Sts. Perpetua & Felicity

Deuteronomy 4:1, 5-9
Psalm 147:12-13, 15-16, 19-20
Matthew 5:17-19

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command performance

"Whoever fulfills and teaches these commands shall be great in the kingdom of God." —Matthew 5:19

Many years ago, I told my little daughter to pick up the mess on her bedroom floor. An hour later, I checked her room. "Daddy, daddy!" she exclaimed. "I cleaned my floor as you told me. And look, I also made my bed and dusted my shelf and cleaned my desk!" My daughter kept my command and far exceeded it because of her desire to please her beloved daddy.

The Old Covenant contained hundreds of commandments to be "carefully" observed (Dt 4:6). Furthermore, Jesus has raised the demands of these commands to a much higher level of fulfillment. He also requires us to obey not only the letter of His commands (Mt 5:17ff), but also the spirit (see 2 Cor 3:6).

To fulfill the letter and spirit of these noble commands, we need the Holy Spirit. The "just demands of" God's commands are only fulfilled in the Spirit (Rm 8:4). In the Holy Spirit, the love of God is poured out in our hearts (Rm 5:5). With love for God overflowing in our hearts, we focus on pleasing God (cf Rm 8:8). The Spirit leads us to "cry out, 'Abba!' (that is, 'Father!')" (Rm 8:15)

As my daughter's love for me kept her joyfully focused on pleasing me by keeping my command, so our Spirit-inspired love for God fills us with the desire to please Him. "The love of God consists in this: that we keep His commandments — and His commandments are not burdensome" when we love Him wholeheartedly (1 Jn 5:3). In the Spirit, tell the Lord: "I love Your command" (Ps 119:127). Then keep and exceed His commands.

Prayer:  Father, "I will delight in Your commands, which I love" (Ps 119:47). I delight in You and will love You with abandon.

Promise:  "He has strengthened the bars of your gates; He has blessed your children within you." —Ps 147:13

Praise:  St. Perpetua was so absorbed in God's love while being martyred that she was unaware that she had suffered great injuries.

Reference:  (This teaching was submitted by a member of our editorial team.)

Rescript:  †Most Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Auxiliary Bishop, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, May 10, 2017

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