Ordinary Time

Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

January 29, 2023 Mass
Speaker: Fr. Lam Le

Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God. (Mt 5:8)

Recently, those who help in the sacristy or those who are close to me have noticed that I give attention to what is called the “vesting prayers” for they truly help me in preparing for Mass.  Considering the Holy Scriptures on this 4th Sunday of Ordinary Time, I would like to comment on the prayers that the priest says while putting on the alb.

The alb is the long white garment worn by the sacred ministers, which recalls the new and immaculate clothing that every Christian receives through baptism. The alb is, therefore, a symbol of the sanctifying grace received in the first sacrament and is also considered to be a symbol of the purity of heart that is necessary to enter the joy of the eternal vision of God in heaven.  It is apparent in the prayer the priest says as he dons the alb: “Dealba me, Domine, et munda cor meum; ut, in sanguine Agni dealbatus, gaudiis perfruar sempiternis/ Make me white, O Lord, and cleanse my heart; that being made white in the Blood of the Lamb I may deserve an eternal reward.” Certainly, in putting on the alb and uttering the prayers, the priest asks for a gift that Jesus mentions in a beatitude today: “clean of heart” (Mt 5:8).

When Jesus delivered this beatitude, he probably had these words of the psalm in mind: “Who may go up the mountain of the LORD? Who can stand in his holy place?  The clean of hand and pure of heart, who has not given his soul to useless things, what is vain. He will receive blessings from the LORD, and justice from his saving God. Such is the generation that seeks him, that seeks the face of the God of Jacob.” (Ps 24:4-6). In the Hebrew scripture, the heart is the center of the person’s inner life –the emotions, the intellect, and most especially the will.  The clean of heart are those who live for God with undivided allegiance (Det 6:4).

Since the water of baptism confers on each of us “the wedding garment” to enter the “Wedding Feast of the Lamb,” it is important for the faithful, as each pass into the entrance door of the church, to unite with the priest while putting on the alb the sacristy, in uttering: “Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God” (Mt. 5:8).  Only with a clean heart will we be worthy to enter the worship of the Almighty God.   In asking to be “clean of heart” so that we can be worthy to enter the Mass, the foretaste of heavenly banquet, this is our everyday preparation to behold God’s Presence in heaven.

It has been said the Beatitudes are constitutions for the Kingdom of Heaven and they are connected to each other because they are all rooted in the life of Christ (Jesus is the poor, the mourner, the humble, the merciful, etc.).  Whenever you prepare for Mass, ask to be “clean of heart.” Our single-mindedness of participating in the Mass is the way to prepare “to see God” i.e., Heaven.

Scriptural Readings: Reading 1Zep 2:3; 3:12-13; Responsorial Psalm Ps 146:6-7, 8-9, 9-10; Reading 2 1 Cor 1:26-31; Alleluia Mt 5:12a; Gospel Mt 5:1-12a


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