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Saturday, March 7, 1998

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Sts. Perpetua & Felicity

Deuteronomy 26:16-19
Psalm 119:1-2, 4-5, 7-8
Matthew 5:43-48

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the distinctively different people

"Today the Lord is making this agreement with you: you are to be a people peculiarly His own, as He promised you." —Deuteronomy 26:18

God is holy, set apart, unique. We, His people, also are holy. We are "a people peculiarly His own," that is, owned by Him in a unique way (Dt 26:18). The Lord owns everything because He created everything (Ps 24:1). However, He owns us in special ways because He has chosen, redeemed, and adopted us as His sons and daughters. We are "a people sacred to the Lord" (Dt 26:19).

Because we are holy, we act differently than other people. For example, we love our enemies rather than hate them (Mt 5:43-44). We pray for our persecutors (Mt 5:44) rather than curse them or gossip about them. By God's grace, we forgive those who have hurt us. In this way, we show that we are God's holy people, for "to err is human, to forgive is divine." Only God and those graced by Him can forgive. Like God alone, we love unconditionally, sacrificially, with a crucified love. This proves that we are sons and daughters of our heavenly Father (Mt 5:45).

"In a word, you must be made perfect" (Mt 5:48). The Lord commands: "Be holy, for I am holy" (1 Pt 1:16).

Prayer:  Father, this Lent may I become holy in every aspect of my life (1 Pt 1:15). May I be in your likeness (see Gn 1:27).

Promise:  "Provided you keep all His commandments, He will then raise you high in praise and renown and glory above all other nations He has made." —Dt 26:18-19

Praise:  Perpetua and Felicity differed from those who killed them: they loved their enemies. Several of their executioners came to believe in Jesus by witnessing their faith as they died.

Reference:  (For related teaching, order our leaflet, Be Holy, For I Am Holy.)

Nihil Obstat:  Reverend Robert L. Hagedorn, July 26, 1997

Imprimatur:  †Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, July 29, 1997