by Erik Ritland
Fully Alive’s Lenten Scriptural Commentary helps Christians get more out of Lent by taking God’s word seriously.
Mostly avoiding personal stories and anecdotes, our commentary dives deeply into the scripture readings for each day and applies them to the broader context of Lent. We use the daily Mass readings from the Catholic lectionary.
If possible, read each passage slowly, taking in each word. If you find that you’ve hurried through a reading, read it over a few more times. Let the words reverberate in your heart. After you’ve let it sink in, read our Lenten Scriptural Commentary.
Monday of the First Week of Lent
More than simply a set of rules, the laws of the old covenant taught the Israelites how to commune with both God and other people. In a seminal Lenten Gospel, Jesus forcefully tells of judgement and how to gain eternal life.
Readings: Lv 19:1-2, 11-18/Mt 25:31-46
Click here to read the complete text from the USCCB website
The LORD said to Moses,
"Speak to the whole assembly of the children of Israel and tell them:
Be holy, for I, the LORD, your God, am holy.
"You shall not bear hatred for your brother in your heart.
Though you may have to reprove him,
do not incur sin because of him.
Take no revenge and cherish no grudge against your fellow countrymen.
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
(cf. Lv 19: 11-18)
In the first reading, God lays out the ways to act like Him: treat people well. Don’t steal, don’t speak falsely, don’t gossip, defend those who are being mistreated.
The laws of the Old Covenant are sometimes misconstrued as being overbearing and cumbersome. In actuality, they teach us how to be free, how to act like God.
During Lent, we are called to especially remember these ways that we are called to act like God – especially by focusing on creating a clean heart within ourselves.
"When the Son of Man comes in his glory,
and all the angels with him,
he will sit upon his glorious throne,
and all the nations will be assembled before him.
And he will separate them one from another,
as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.”
(cf Mt. 25: 31-46)
Jesus is not all rainbows and sunshine. He has high demands for everyone.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus is clear about this. The parable of the sheep and the goats teaches us that we have to live our faith to be pleasing to God. We live our faith by actively serving “the least of these”: by feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting those in prison.
Jesus doesn’t mince words. We are judged based on our actions. As Christians, we are called to work for God’s Kingdom. If we don’t, we’ll be counted among the goats.
Lent is the perfect time to re-ignite our passion for serving others.
Erik Ritland is a writer and musician. The founder of Fully Alive Christian Media, he also created The Minnesota Sport Ramble and is a writer and copy editor for Music in Minnesota. He was Lead Staff Writer for Minnesota culture blogs Curious North and Hometown Hustle. Reach him via email.
Erik Ritland received his MA in Theology in 2017. He's the founder and content manager of Fully Alive Christian Media and Rambling On, copy editor and writer for Music in Minnesota, and an acclaimed songwriter.