February 23

February 23

Friday of the 1st Week of Lent

Optional memorial of St. Polycarp, bishop and martyr.  Apostolic Father, disciple of St. John the Evangelist and friend of St. Ignatius of Antioch; he was martyred in Smyrna, in present-day Turkey, in the year 155.

Mass Readings

First Reading – Ez 18:21-28

Thus says the Lord GOD: If the wicked man turns away from all the sins he committed, if he keeps all My statutes and does what is right and just, he shall surely live, he shall not die. None of the crimes he committed shall be remembered against him; he shall live because of the virtue he has practiced. Do I indeed derive any pleasure from the death of the wicked? Says the Lord GOD. Do I not rather rejoice when he turns from his evil way that he may live? And if the virtuous man turns from the path of virtue to do evil, the same kind of abominable things that the wicked man does, can he do this and still live? None of his virtuous deeds shall be remembered, because he has broken faith and committed sin; because of this, he shall die. You say, “The LORD’s way is not fair!” Hear now, house of Israel: Is it My way that is unfair, or rather, are not your ways unfair? When someone virtuous turns away from virtue to commit iniquity, and dies, it is because of the iniquity he committed that he must die. But if the wicked, turning from the wickedness he has committed, does what is right and just, he shall preserve his life; since he has turned away from all the sins that he committed, he shall surely live, he shall not die.

Responsorial Psalm – 130:1-2, 3-4, 5-7a, 7bc-8 (R. 3)

R. If You, O Lord, mark iniquities, who can stand?

Out of the depths I cry to You, O LORD;
LORD, hear my voice!
Let Your ears be attentive
to my voice in supplication. R.

If You, O LORD, mark iniquities,
LORD, who can stand?
But with You is forgiveness,
that You may be revered. R.

I trust in the LORD;
my soul trusts in His word.
My soul waits for the LORD
more than sentinels wait for the dawn.
Let Israel wait for the LORD. R.

For with the LORD is kindness
and with Him is plenteous redemption;
And He will redeem Israel
from all their iniquities. R.

Gospel – Mt 5:20-26

Jesus said to His disciples: “I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter into the Kingdom of heaven. “You have heard that it was said to your ancestors, You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment. But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment, and whoever says to his brother, Raqa, will be answerable to the Sanhedrin, and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ will be liable to fiery Gehenna. Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar, and there recall that your brother has anything against you, leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Settle with your opponent quickly while on the way to court. Otherwise your opponent will hand you over to the judge, and the judge will hand you over to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. Amen, I say to you, you will not be released until you have paid the last penny.”

Featured Saints

St. John, monk (†eleventh century). His mother was brought as a slave by the Saracens to Palermo, Italy, shortly before his birth. She instructed him in the Christian Faith and when he had reached age fourteen, she sent him to his ancestral city. He joined the Basilian monks of that region, attracted by their heroic lives; he stood out for his virtue and contemplative spirit.

St.­ Milburga, virgin (†circa 722). Daughter of King Merewalh of Mercia, in present-day England. She abandoned worldly riches, embraced religious life and founded the Monastery of Wenlock of which she was abbess.

 Blessed Nicolas Tabouillot, priest and martyr (†1795). Parish priest of the Diocese of Verdun, imprisoned in a galley in Rochefort during the French Revolution where he became ill and died.

Blessed Louis Mzyk, priest and martyr (†1942). Religious from the Congregation of the Divine Word; during the Nazi occupation he was taken to Fort VII, in Poznan, Poland, where he was tortured and killed out of religious hatred.

Blessed Vincent Frelichowski, priest and martyr (†1945). His faith remained steadfast despite incarceration in several prisons. He died in the concentration camp of Dachau, Germany, after caring for many sick companions.

Blessed Rafaela Ybarra, religious (†1900). Mother of seven children, she obtained her husband’s permission to take religious vows and founded the Institute of the Sisters of the Holy Guardian Angels in Bilbao, Spain.

St. Josephine Vannini, virgin (†1911). Foundress of the Congregation of the Daughters of St. Camillus in Rome.

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