Malankara World

Great Lent Today

Day 12 - Second Friday of the Great Lent

Opening Prayer:

Grant that your faithful, O Lord, we pray,
may be so conformed to the paschal observance,
that the bodily discipline now solemnly begun
may bear fruit in the souls of all.
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)

Ezekiel 18:21-28; Psalm 130:1-8; Matthew 5:20-26

In His Steps - A Lenten Series

Today: By the Shore: Follow Me!

Daily Meditation:

Renew us and prepare us.
Our lesson today is anout reconcilliation
Our Lord forgives us all our sins -
nothing can seperate us from the love of God for us in Jesus
And we are called to forgive others
with the same compassion, mercy, patience, and love given to us.

Our Lenten practices help us to
experience the renewing love of God,
and they prepare us for our journey to Easter"
to celebrate the mystery of our death to self
and rebirth in the new life Jesus won for us.

I do not wish the sinner to die, says the Lord,
but to turn to me and live.
Ezekiel 33

Today's Daily Reflection

by Eileen Burke-Sullivan
Theology Department, Creighton University

1 Peter 5:1-4
Psalm 23:1-3a, 3b-4, 5, 6
Matthew 16:13-19

Today we celebrate a universal Feast of the Church, the Chair of Peter. In a very real way, the Church treats this feast as a kind of foundation day of the Papacy – certainly the text from Matthew that we are invited to feast on is one of the classic proof texts for papal authority. The symbol of keys is also the primary symbol for papal authority. It is proper then to meditate on the office of Papacy and its meaning for the life of the Church on this feast day.

If we couple today's Gospel with several other New Testament texts on authority (including today's first reading from the First Letter of Peter) we recognize that Jesus is giving to Peter and to the Church his own power – that is the power to reveal the Reign of God in the world throughout history. Jesus is handing on His mission from God to the disciples – and specifically to Peter in this Matthean version of this text – to carry on His work of disclosing the compassion of God made evident by the way he lived out his life and death. The ultimate expression of Divine authority is manifest in the person of Jesus of Nazareth (Matthew explicitly states this in 28.18) and he challenges his disciples to exercise the authority he is giving them/us precisely by laying down their/our lives for the world.

It is obvious to us that Jesus' sense of authority is not easily grasped in our culture and time or in any era of human history. Not only does he have to catechize his followers a number of times on the issue, he has to witness it by his behavior in every relationship in his life and ultimately in the manner of his death. And they/we still don't get it! Jesus NEVER "flaunts" power over anyone. He NEVER coerces anyone to do his will. He invites, challenges, seduces by love, all behaviors that leave the other free to embrace or reject his desire. In fact He gives us the freedom from the consequences of sin so that we really are free to say yes, but He never takes away the power to say no.

Within Christian history this Gospel testimony has not been regularly heeded – and the consequence in every instance has been the failure of the Church to fulfill the mission of Christ. The human heart is turned to bitterness and revenge when the Church has raised a sword of conquest rather than the hand of mercy; the community of believers has been torn in shreds when ecclesial pompousness and greed refused to hear the cry of confused believers asking for the Gospel.

Even the text of today's Gospel (whatever you bind . . . whatever you loose . . .) is often understood to mean that the Church ‘controls' the distribution of God's mercy – but a more accurate interpretation of binding and loosing is to see them as parallels rather than opposites: whenever the Church chooses to bind up the wounds of the world, God is binding those wounds. When the Church looses the chains of sin's power, God frees the human heart to forgive and to love. The "keys" to the Reign of God are the manner and pattern of Jesus' ministerial response: the keys of humble service in life and through death.

Given all this, how ought we to respond to the authority of the papacy today? We American Catholics live and breathe an anti-authoritarian culture. We love to hate authority figures. Our current culture loves to make fun of and disparage those who bear the burden and responsibility for leading, and we love to tell them over and over how poorly they are doing. (I fear the first paragraphs of this reflection could serve as a case in point.) Some of our stance is historically due, perhaps, to bad leadership, but much of it is simply the consequence of sin in our lives. Under the bonds of sin I don't want to be liberated and led toward the Kingdom of God because I would generally rather worship myself as god.

The truth is, I grant authority to the one who does for me what I need done for me that I can't do. God is the ultimate doer of what needs to be done for me – thus he has ultimate authority. If he has chosen to give that authority into the hands of fallible humans to exercise on his behalf then I have a call to listen and obey for the sake of my own life – if I want to live in joy and peace.

The papacy is blest in our time to be free from ownership of vast properties and the scandal of the profits of human serfs. The papacy is blest today to be free from the political entanglements, armies and war paraphernalia that weighed it down in other eras. The papacy is blest with the authority and opportunity to speak on behalf of human rights and human dignity – but the effectiveness of that authority is realized by the exercise of compassion and humility of the office holder. It is a great moment of grace for the Church of our time that Pope Benedict XVI began his pontifical service with an Encyclical Letter on the Love of God. In the words of today's first reading we must all pray lovingly for him and for all presbyters among us: that they witness to the sufferings of Christ; that they tend to the flock willingly and not for profit, and that they serve humbly, not lording it over those assigned. For ourselves we pray for the humility and good sense to obey the right exercise of leadership . . .so that the Kingdom may come on earth as it is in heaven.

Preface for Meditation
by Prince Mathew

Fasting is the root by which all the fruits of sanctity are sustained and on this same root grows purity and rejoices patience. Fasting dispels immodesty, controls the lust and offers the body as a holy temple of God. Therefore, the Church exhorts the faithful to love and practice this highly acceptable form of Christian life so that it may lead them to the great eternal fast which is going to happen in the eternal bride chamber of life. Through it, the strength of the soul is confirmed, the riches of the body are increased and good aspirations aroused in the heart.

The prayers of the great Lent highlight Moses, Elijah and Jesus as the great champions of fasting. According to the scripture they observed fasting for forty days and it was these three who are seen in unusually bright light on the transfiguration mount. When the Jews under captivity in Babylon were released and were about to go back to Jerusalem around two and half millennia ago, they declared a fasting to ensure God’s protection in their journey. (Ezra 8: 21&22) It is recorded in the book of Ezra that they did not ask the King to send soldiers to ensure their security so that the gentiles could not laugh at the shallow nature of their faith.

In our transient journey in this planet to eternity our ultimate trust and security is to be in God who strengthens us to conquer all kinds of evil and to progress. Through fasting we humble ourselves and surrender fully to God who empowers us to face all challenges and sinful tendencies. Fasting must be undertaken voluntarily and it must be of divine dispensation’. This is the primary teaching of our Church on Fasting. Fast is of free will and it is the voluntary fast which is accessible and permanent. Fasting becomes highly acceptable when it is joined with humility of hearts, charity towards all men and continuous prayers. The Lenten prayers and liturgy of our Church extols this kind of fasting by giving the Old Testament figures as good examples (Moses, Daniel, Elijah etc.).

Bible Reading:

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

Evening

Morning

Gospel Readings:

Matthew 16:21-28 (KJV)

From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.

Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee.

But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.

Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.

For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?

For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.

Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.

Matthew 5:38-48 (KJV)

Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:

But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.

And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also.

And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.

Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.

Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.

But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?

And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?

Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

Bible Verse for the Day:

"For the Son of Man will come in the glory of his Father with his angels, and then he will render to everyone according to his deeds." St. Matthew 16:27

Intercessions:

Thanks be to Christ the Lord, who brought us life by his death on the cross.
With our whole heart let us ask him:
By your death raise us to life

Teacher and savior, you have shown us your fidelity and made us
a new creation by your passion,
-keep us from falling again into sin
Help us to deny ourselves today,
-and not deny those in need
May we receive this day of penance as your gift,
-and give it back to you through works of mercy
Master our rebellious hearts,
-and teach us generosity

Closing Prayer:

Creator of my life,
renew me: bring me to new life in you.
Touch me and make me feel whole again.
Help me to see your love
in the passion, death and resurrection of your son.
Help me to observe Lent
in a way that allows me to celebrate that love.
Prepare me for these weeks of Lent
as I feel both deep sorrows for my sins
and your undying love for me.

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

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