Thursday, February 18, 2021
Reading (Deuteronomy 30:15-20)
 “Look! I am presenting you today with, on the one hand, life and good; and on the other, death and evil —  in that I am ordering you today to love Adonai your God, to follow his ways, and to obey his mitzvot, regulations and rulings ; for if you do, you will live and increase your numbers; and Adonai your God will bless you in the land you are entering in order to take possession of it.
 But if your heart turns away, if you refuse to listen, if you are drawn away to prostrate yourselves before other gods and serve them;  I am announcing to you today that you will certainly perish; you will not live long in the land you are crossing the Yarden to enter and possess.
 “I call on heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have presented you with life and death, the blessing and the curse. Therefore, choose life, so that you will live, you and your descendants,  loving Adonai your God, paying attention to what he says and clinging to him — for that is the purpose of your life!
On this depends the length of time you will live in the land Adonai swore he would give to your ancestors Avraham, Yitz’chak and Ya‘akov.”
Gospel (Luke 9:22-25)
 adding, “The Son of Man has to endure much suffering and be rejected by the elders, the head cohanim and the Torah-teachers; and he has to be put to death; but on the third day, he has to be raised to life.”
 Then to everyone he said, “If anyone wants to come after me, let him say ‘No’ to himself, take up his execution-stake daily and keep following me.  For whoever tries to save his own life will destroy it, but whoever destroys his life on my account will save it.
 What will it benefit a person if he gains the whole world but destroys or forfeits his own life?
Wednesday, February 17, 2021
First Reading (Joel 2:12-18)
“Yet even now,” says Adonai, “turn to me with all your heart, with fasting, weeping and lamenting.”  Tear your heart, not your garments; and turn to Adonai your God. For he is merciful and compassionate, slow to anger, rich in grace, and willing to change his mind about disaster.
 Who knows? He may turn, change his mind and leave a blessing behind him,
[enough for] grain offerings and drink offerings to present to Adonai your God.  “Blow the shofar in Tziyon! Proclaim a holy fast, call for a solemn assembly.”
 Gather the people; consecrate the congregation; assemble the leaders; gather the children, even infants sucking at the breast; let the bridegroom leave his room and the bride the bridal chamber.
 Let the cohanim, who serve Adonai, stand weeping between the vestibule and the altar. Let them say, “Spare your people, Adonai! Don’t expose your heritage to mockery, or make them a byward among the Goyim.
Why should the peoples say, ‘Where is their God?’”  Then Adonai will become jealous for his land and have pity on his people.
Second Reading (2 Corinthians 5:20 –21; 6:1-2)
 Therefore we are ambassadors of the Messiah; in effect, God is making his appeal through us. What we do is appeal on behalf of the Messiah, “Be reconciled to God!
 God made this sinless man be a sin offering on our behalf, so that in union with him we might fully share in God’s righteousness.” [6:1] As God’s fellow-workers we also urge you not to receive his grace and then do nothing with it.
 For he says, “At the acceptable time I heard you; in the day of salvation I helped you.”
Gospel (Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18)
 “Be careful not to parade your acts of tzedakah in front of people in order to be seen by them! If you do, you have no reward from your Father in heaven.  So, when you do tzedakah, don’t announce it with trumpets to win people’s praise, like the hypocrites in the synagogues and on the streets.
Yes! I tell you, they have their reward already!  But you, when you do tzedakah, don’t even let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.  Then your tzedakah will be in secret; and your Father, who sees what you do in secret, will reward you.
 “When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites, who love to pray standing in the synagogues and on street corners, so that people can see them. Yes! I tell you, they have their reward already!
 But you, when you pray, go into your room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. Your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.  “Now when you fast, don’t go around looking miserable, like the hypocrites.
They make sour faces so that people will know they are fasting. Yes! I tell you, they have their reward already!  But you, when you fast, wash your face and groom yourself,  so that no one will know you are fasting — except your Father, who is with you in secret. Your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.