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From: Joel 2:12-18

An Urgent Call to Repentance

[12] “Yet even now,” says the LORD, “return to me with all your heart, with fas-
ting, with weeping, and with mourning; [13] and rend your hearts and not your
garments.” Return to the LORD, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow
to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and repents of evil. [14] Who knows
whether he will not turn and repent, and leave a blessing behind him, a cereal
offering and a drink offering for the LORD, your God?

[15] Blow the trumpet in Zion; sanctify a fast; call a solemn assembly; [16] ga-
ther the people. Sanctify the congregation; assemble the elders; gather the chil-
dren, even nursing infants. Let the bridegroom leave his room, and the bride her

The Priests Entreat the Lord

[17] Between the vestibule and the altar let the priests, the ministers of the
LORD, weep and say, “Spare thy people, O LORD, and make not thy heritage a
reproach, a byword among the nations. Why should they say among the peoples,
‘Where is their God?’”

[18] Then the LORD became jealous for his land, and had pity on his people.


2:12-17. The first part of the book ends with a general exhortation to conversion:
there is an oracle of the Lord (”says the Lord”: v. 12), where the prophet makes
an appeal on behalf of God; and then he specifically mentions the priests’ duty
to do penance and offer prayers. Central to these words of warning is v. 13,
which spells out what makes conversion last—God’s compassion and man’s
sincere determination. St Jerome comments: “’Return to me with all your heart’:
show your repentance and inner conversion through fasting, mourning and tears.
By fasting now, your hunger will be satisfied later; mourning now, one day you
will laugh; weeping now, you shall be consoled. The custom of rending one’s gar-
ments at times of sorrow or adversity is well-established: the high priest tore his
robes to show the gravity of the Savior’s crime; and, according to the Acts of the
Apostles, Paul and Barnabas ripped their tunics when they heard blasphemous
words being spoken. But I tell you to rend not your garments, but your hearts
that are filled with sin. The heart, like wineskins, does not tear of its own accord:
it must be deliberately torn. When you have rent your heart in this way, return to
the Lord, your God, from whom you have strayed by your sins. Never doubt his
forgiveness, for no matter how many and grave your past sins have been, he will
pardon you from the abundance of his mercy” (”Commentarii in Ioelem”, 2, 12ff).

2:17. This verse (which the liturgy of the Church uses as a call to penance on
Ash Wednesday) acts as a conclusion to the first part of the book: a change of
heart, backed up by sincere acts of penance, can cause God to stay his hand
and spare his people any more affliction. The words that open the second part
of the book (v. 18) tell us of the Lord’s response; from then on, hope is on the ho-
rizon: “God does not let himself be outdone in generosity. Be sure that he grants
faithfulness to those who give themselves to him” (St Josemaria Escrivá, “The
Forge”, 623).

Source: “The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries”. Biblical text from the
Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of
the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.

Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and
by Scepter Publishers in the United States.

4 posted on 02/12/2013 9:15:25 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: All

From: 2 Corinthians 5:20-6:2

The Ministry of Reconciliation (Continuation)

[20] So we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We
beseech you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. [21] For our sake he
made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righ-
teousness of God.

St Paul, a True Servant of Christ

[1] Working together with him, then, we entreat you not to accept the grace of
God in vain. [2] For he says, “At the acceptable time I have listened to you, and
helped you on the day of salvation.” Behold, now is the acceptable time; behold,
now is the day of salvation.


18-21. The reconciliation of mankind with God—whose friendship we lost through
original sin—has been brought about by Christ’s death on the cross. Jesus, who
is like men in all things “yet without sinning” (Heb 4:14), bore the sins of men (cf.
Is 53:4-12) and offered himself on the cross as an atoning sacrifice for all those
sins (cf. 1 Pet 2:22-25), thereby reconciling men to God; through this sacrifice
we became the righteousness of God, that is, we are justified, made just in
God’s sight (cf. Rom 1:17; 3:24-26 and notes). The Church reminds us of this
in the rite of sacramental absolution: “God, the Father of mercies, through the
death and resurrection of his son has reconciled the world to himself [...].”

Our Lord entrusted the Apostles with this ministry of reconciliation (v. 18), this
“message of reconciliation” (v. 19), to pass it on to all men: elsewhere in the
New Testament it is described as the “message of salvation” (Acts 13:26), the
“word of grace” (Acts 14:3; 20:32), the “word of life” ( 1 Jn 1: 1). Thus, the Apos-
tles were our Lord’s ambassadors to men, to whom St Paul addresses a pres-
sing call: “be reconciled to God”, that is, apply to yourselves the reconciliation
obtained by Jesus Christ—which is done mainly through the sacraments of Bap-
tism and Penance. “The Lord Jesus instituted in his Church the sacrament of
Penance, so that those who have committed sins after Baptism might be recon-
ciled with God, whom they have offended, and with the Church itself whom they
have injured” (Bl. John Paul II, “Aperite Portas”, 5).

21. “He made him to be sin”: obviously St Paul does not mean that Christ was
guilty of sin; he does not say “to be a sinner” but “to be sin”. “Christ had no sin,”
St Augustine says; “he bore sins, but he did not commit them” (”Enarrationes
in Psalmos”, 68, 1, 10).

According to the rite of atoning sacrifices (cf. Lev 4:24; 5:9; Num 19:9; Mic 6:7;
Ps 40:7) the word “sin”, corresponding to the Hebrew “asam”, refers to the ac-
tual act of sacrifice or to the victim being offered. Therefore, this phrase means
“he made him a victim for sin” or “a sacrifice for sin”. It should be remembered
that in the Old Testament nothing unclean or blemished could be offered to God;
the offering of an unblemished animal obtained God’s pardon for the transgres-
sion which one wanted to expiate. Since Jesus was the most perfect of victims
offered for us, he made full atonement for all sins. In the Letter to the Hebrews,
when comparing Christ’s sacrifice with that of the priests of the Old Testament,
it is expressly stated that “every priest stands daily at his service, offering re-
peatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ
had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand
of God, then to wait until his enemies should be made a stool for his feet. For
by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are sanctified” (Heb

This concentrated sentence also echoes the Isaiah prophecy about the sacrifice
of the Servant of Yahweh; Christ, the head of the human race, makes men sha-
rers in the grace and glory he achieved through his sufferings: “upon him was the
chastisement that made us whole, and with his stripes we are healed” (Is 53:5).

Jesus Christ, burdened with our sins and offering himself on the cross as a sacri-
fice for them, brought about the Redemption: the Redemption is the supreme ex-
ample both of God’s justice—which requires atonement befitting the offense—and
of his mercy, that mercy which makes him love the world so much that “he gave
his only Son” (Jn 3:16). “In the Passion and Death of Christ—in the fact that the
Father did not spare his own Son, but ‘for our sake made him sin’—absolute jus-
tice is expressed, for Christ undergoes the Passion and Cross because of the
sins of humanity. This constitutes even a ‘superabundance’ of justice, for the sins
of man are ‘compensated for’ by the sacrifice of the Man-God. Nevertheless, this
justice, which is properly justice ‘to God’s measure’, springs completely from love,
from the love of the Father and of the Son, and completely bears fruit in love. Pre-
cisely for this reason the divine justice revealed in the Cross of Christ is ‘to God’s
measure’, because it springs from love and is accomplished in love, producing
fruits of salvation. The divine dimension of redemption is put into effect not only
by bringing justice to bear upon sin, but also by restoring to love that creative po-
wer in man thanks to which he once more has access to the fullness of life and
holiness that come from God. In this way, redemption involves the revelation of
mercy in its fullness” (Bl. John Paul II, “Dives In Misericordia”, 7).

1-10. St Paul concludes his long defense of his apostolic ministry (cf. 3:1-6:10)
by saying that he has always tried to act as a worthy servant of God. First he
calls on the Corinthians to have a sense of responsibility so that the grace of
God be not ineffective in them (vv. 1-2), and then he briefly describes the afflic-
tions this ministry has meant for him. Earlier, he touched on this subject (cf. 4:
7-12), and he will deal with it again in 11:23-33.

1-2. St Paul exhorts the faithful not to accept the grace of God in vain, which
would happen if they did not cultivate the faith and initial grace they received in
Baptism and if they neglected the graces which God continues to send them.
This exhortation is valid for all Christians: “We receive the grace of God in vain”,
St Francis de Sales points out, “when we receive it at the gate of our heart,
without allowing it to enter: we receive it without receiving it; we receive it with-
out fruit, since there is no use in feeling the inspiration if one does not consent
unto it. And just as the sick man who has the medicine in his hands, if he takes
only part of it, will only partially benefit from it, so too, when God sends a great
and mighty inspiration to move us to embrace his love, if we do not avail of it in
its entirety, we shall benefit from it only partially” (”Treatise on the Love of God”,
book 2, chap. 11).

The Apostle urges them to cultivate the grace they have been given, using a quo-
tation from Isaiah (49:8): the right time has come, the day of salvation. His words
recall our Lord’s preaching in the synagogue of Nazareth (cf. Lk 4:16-21).

The “acceptable time” will last until Christ comes in glory at the end of the world
(in the life of the individual, it will last until the hour of his death); until then, every
day is “the day of salvation”: “’Ecce none dies salutis’, the day of salvation is
here before us. The call of the good shepherd has reached us: ‘”ego vocavi te no-
mine too”, I have called you by name’ (Is 43:1). Since love repays love, we must
reply: ‘”ecce ego quia vocasti me”, Here I am, for you called me’ (1 Sam 3:5) [...].
I will be converted, I will turn again to the Lord and love him as he wants to be
loved” (St. J. Escriva, “Christ Is Passing By”, 59).

Source: “The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries”. Biblical text from the
Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of
the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.

Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and
by Scepter Publishers in the United States.

5 posted on 02/12/2013 9:17:26 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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