Malankara World

Great Lent Today

Day 11 - Second Thursday of Great Lent

Opening Prayer:

Bestow on us, we pray, O Lord,
a spirit of always pondering on what is right
and of hastening to carry it out,
and, since without you we cannot exist,
may we be enabled to live according to your will.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

The Readings (alternate)

Esther C:12, 14-16, 23-25; Psalm 138:1-2, 2-3, 7-8; Matthew 7:7-12

In His Steps - A Lenten Series

Today: Under the Fig Tree: I Saw You There

Daily Meditation:

Help us to be eager in doing your will.
In today's lesson we learn more about prayer.
We are touched by the bold, full-hearted prayer of Esther.
We hear with a freshness how sincerely Jesus invites us to:
ask and receive
seek and find
knock and find the door opened.

Dependence is not a virtue we ordinarily admire.
Today we grow in our sense that we need God's grace very much -
even to know what is right -
but certainly to fan our desires into a flame.

Lord, on the day I called for help,
you answered me.
Psalm 138

Today's Daily Reflection

by Lydia Reinig
Department of Communication Studies, Creighton University

Esther C:12, 14-16, 23-25
Psalm 138:1-2ab, 2cde-3, 7c-8
Matthew 7:7-12

Several years ago, while I was still a student, I received a phone call from a friend late one Sunday evening. The nature of the conversation was overwhelming, and my friend seemed surprised by my reaction. (I assume my friend had anticipated that I would rather practically respond to her questions and confirm information). When the phone call ended mutually, but on uncertain terms, I found myself alone in my room questioning what had transpired and what I was supposed to do now. When we had ended our conversation I had asked for time to consider her requests—which in that moment seemed to me unreasonable—and agreed to return her my decision—which to me required that I consider my decision's implications on several other people—in a few days. In such a distressing situation, I needed the advice of my parents, except that they had left earlier in the day for a two-week vacation in Europe, making speaking with them—even in the age of cell-phones and email—difficult to say the least.

Taken together, the theme of today's readings is well summarized by the Psalm response: Lord, on the day I called for help, you answered me. In the first reading we enter into an emotionally-gripping drama as we find Esther "seized with mortal anguish" lying on the floor "from morning until evening" pleading with God for help. Fear, desperation, and loneliness fill her voice as she implores God to "turn our mourning into gladness and our sorrows into wholeness." In today's gospel we listen to a didactic lesson from Jesus as he teaches his disciples—in a certain and matter-of-fact tone—"For everyone who asks, receives." He promises that God will answer our prayers if we but only ask. In Jesus' analogies, God's attentive care for his children seems commonsensical and unquestionable. If our child is hungry, why would we give them an inedible stone?

Today's readings seem to fit a unified theme, discussing what it means to put our faith in God and trust our prayers will be answered. That is, until we get to a rather clumsy end to the gospel—one that could easily overshadow the prior message in recognition, or, conversely, be omitted on account of thematic incongruity. What does saying, "Do to others whatever you would have them do to you." have to do with God responding to our prayers?

In regards to the situation with my friend, I did a good deal of praying. Admittedly, I prayed that my friend might understand that the request was unreasonable and that I would be able to talk to my parents. Neither of these things was given to me, because these were not the things I needed. God instead gave me what I needed when I asked for help. I was given the courage to tell my friend why I was upset. I received many loving people who offered me guidance and support in the days of my decision-making. These people reminded me that I had to treat my friend in the way that I would want to be treated in this situation. God did not put my prayers off for a more important or reasonable request, but treated me with providence and grace. In this way, the "Golden Rule" not only tells us how to treat each other, it promises us that God will always care and provide for us in the ways that our Lord intended us to be loved. Just as Esther did, "Ask and it will be given unto you; seek and you shall find."

Preface for Meditation
by Prince Mathew

Fasting was practiced by the Lord Himself. After prayer and fasting for forty days in the wilderness, the Lord victoriously faced the temptations of the devil (Matthew 4:1-­11). The Lord himself asked the disciples to use fasting as an important spiritual weapon to achieve spiritual victories (Matthew 17:21; Mark 9:29; Luke 2:37). The example of the Lord was followed by His disciples (Acts 14:23; 27:9; 1 Corinthians 7:5; 2 Corinthians 6:5, 11:27, etc.).

The importance of fasting depends on its meaning. Fasting is not abstaining from food only; it is first of all, abstaining from sin. By detaching us from earthly goods and realities, fasting has a liberating effect on us and makes us worthy of the life of the spirit, a life similar to that of angels. Fasting, as abstinence from bad habits and sin, is the mother of Christian virtues, the mother of sound and wholesome thinking; it allows us to establish the proper priority between the material and spiritual, giving priority to the spiritual.

In our materialistic society we learn to identify ourselves through self-indulgence and we tend to see the fasting only as a time of deprivation and penance. But this is not at all the view of the Church on fasting and abstinence and it is clearly explained by the Fathers in their spiritual discourses. For them, fasting is the feast of the soul and good fasts are like medicine which cures our soul and mind, and, along with other virtuous works, it leads us to the eternal life. In our spiritual battle, fasting protects us from the evil one. It not only resists the attack but also trains our body and mind for the battle. Fasting is a great weapon against the evil one. Through fasting Christ defeated the Satan and has given us this weapon to overcome the evil. Fasting and abstinence are the two weapons for cultivating the field of Christian life.

Bible Reading:

Fifty-Day Gospel Planner
(Read all Gospels during the Great Lent)

Evening

Morning

Gospel Readings:

Luke 16:1-13 (KJV)

And he said also unto his disciples, There was a certain rich man, which had a steward; and the same was accused unto him that he had wasted his goods.

And he called him, and said unto him, How is it that I hear this of thee? give an account of thy stewardship; for thou mayest be no longer steward.

Then the steward said within himself, What shall I do? for my lord taketh away from me the stewardship: I cannot dig; to beg I am ashamed.

I am resolved what to do, that, when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses.

So he called every one of his lord's debtors unto him, and said unto the first, How much owest thou unto my lord?

And he said, An hundred measures of oil. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and sit down quickly, and write fifty.

Then said he to another, And how much owest thou? And he said, An hundred measures of wheat. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and write fourscore.

And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.

And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations.

He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.

If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?

And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man's, who shall give you that which is your own?

No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

Matthew 18:18-22 (KJV)

Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.

For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?

Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.

Bible Verse for the Day:

"Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much." St. Luke 16: 10.

Intercessions:

Christ our Lord came among us as the light of the world, that we might walk in his light, and not in the darkness of death.
Let us praise him and cry out to him:
Let your word be a lamp to guide us.

God of mercy, help us today to grow in your likeness,
- that we who sinned in Adam may rise again in Christ.
Let your word be a lamp to guide us,
- that we may live the truth and grow always in your love.
Teach us to be faithful in seeking the common good for your sake,
- that your light may shine on the whole human family by means of your Church.
Touch our hearts to seek your friendship more and more,
- and to make amends for our sins against your wisdom and goodness.

Closing Prayer:

Lord,
I'm not always eager to do your will.
I'd often much rather do my own will.
Please be with me on this Lenten journey
and help me to remember
that your own spirit can guide me
in the right direction.
I want to "fix" my weaknesses
but the task seems overwhelming.
But I know that with your help,
anything can be done.
With a grateful heart,
I acknowledge your love
and know that without you,
I can do nothing.

May the Lord bless us,
protect us from all evil
and bring us to everlasting life.
Amen. 

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