Biblical Readings for each day's Mass,
(for the Liturgical Year 2021)

February 23, 2021
Tuesday in the first week of Lent

1st Reading: Isaiah 55:10-11

God's word comes down from heaven like rain, to make the earth fruitful

For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there until they have watered the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

Responsorial: from Psalm 34

R./: The Lord will rescue the just from all their distress

Glorify the Lord with me.
Together let us praise his name.
 I sought the Lord and he answered me;
 from all my terrors he set me free. (R./)

Look towards him and be radiant;
 let your faces not be abashed.
This poor man called; the Lord heard him
 and rescued him from all his distress. (R./)

The Lord turns his face against the wicked
 to destroy their remembrance from the earth.
The Lord turns his eyes to the just and his ears to their appeal. (R./)

They call and the Lord hears and rescues them in all their distress.
The Lord is close to the broken- hearted;
 those whose spirit is crushed he will save. (R./)

Gospel: Matthew 6:7-15

Guidance about prayer and the spirit of forgiveness

Jesus said to his disciples, "When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

"Pray then in this way: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one.

For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

As the rain and the snow come down from heaven

During Lent we renew an attentive listening to the word of God in Sacred Scripture. Taking the message of the Bible to heart is a lifelong task. Today’s reading from Isaiah symbolizes the cycle of life in the rain and snow that fall from the sky and moisten the earth, giving life to all plants and trees. Divine inspiration is like the rain and the snow, and the new life arising in the plants and trees represents our newly-inspired lives. This vibrant, living image concludes the great second section of Isaiah (chapters 40-55), regarded by many as the most sublime literature of the Old Testament. This poetry bubbles with hopes and ideals, calling us to trust in God. The author was "Second Isaiah" the greatest literary genius of the Old Testament.

"See!" God says, "I have written your name on the palm of my hand" (Is 49:16). And why? "Because you are precious in my eyes and because I love you" (43:4). God’s love offers unconditional forgiveness. This is the type of love that we aspire to as we pray in the Our Father, "Forgive us ur trespasses."

A sincere desire for spiritual growth breathes through the liturgy of Lent, as it does through the Lord’s Prayer. This is the time to let the divine word come fully alive in us, "that it may not return to me empty, but achieve the end for which I sent it."

Although the Gospels often reported occasions when Jesus prayed, only rarely do they report what he prayed about. Just once does he teach his disciples the particular intercession which we know as the Lord’s Prayer. This is one formula shared by all Christians. In it Jesus teaches what is essential for genuine prayer, namely to put God’s will above our personal preferences. We must let go of selfish desire, in order to want what God wants, for the world and for ourselves. The Prayer then invites us to ask for basic needs, for food, both material and spiritual, for forgiveness, and for God’s help in times of trouble.

He wants us to broaden our focus from just our personal needs and pray as members of a community. It is a prayer that speaks of OUR needs rather than just MY needs. We intercede not just for ourselves but for others. We pray the Lord’s prayer as members of a living community of faith and love.