Malankara World

Great Lent Today

Day 38 - Wednesday before Hosanna

Opening Prayer:

Enlighten, O God of compassion,
the hearts of your children, sanctified by penance,
and in your kindness
grant those you stir to a sense of devotion
a gracious hearing when they cry out to you.
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)
Daniel 3:14-20, 91-92, 95; Daniel 3:52-56; John 8:31-42

In His Steps - A Lenten Series

Today: The Temple Courts: A Trick Question

Daily Meditation:

Enlighten our minds and sanctify our hearts.
In our reflection, Jesus is about to face a fiery furnace,
which represents the full rejection of all our sins,
and the crushing defeat of death itself.
Praying the Stations again,
might help us grow in a sense that this is all "for me," for my freedom.

We grow in a sense of repentance and deep sorrow.
We grow in a desire to celebrate
the glorious Light in the midst of all darkness.

Rid yourself of all your sins
and make a new heart and a new spirit.
Gospel antiphon, based upon Ezekiel 18:31

Today's Daily Reflection

by Mary Haynes Kuhlman
Theology Department, Creighton University

A sinkhole beneath a house in Florida opens, and the sleeping homeowner disappears underground forever. The seemingly solid earth was an illusion. In a rather difficult teaching in today's Gospel, Jesus rejects "those Jews who believed in him." He tells them, "The truth will set you free." They ask, "How can you say 'You will become free'"? An expert teacher, Jesus knows from their questioning that their apparent faith is an illusion. Complacently sure that as descendents of Abraham they don't really commit sins, are certainly not "enslaved" by sin, they haven't really heard Jesus. In fact, he knows that at least some of them, afraid that his teaching will upset their comfortable positions in society, will actually conspire to have the Roman authorities put him to death. And for you and me, on this Lenten Wednesday, Good Friday draws near.

But there's hope for us in this Gospel excerpt too. Our 21st century understandings of human psychology explain further how "everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin." Today we know a lot about alcoholism and other physical addictions, and about psychological addictions to behaviors like gambling or shopping or risk-taking that can become compulsive and destructive. They can enslave us. Christian teachings about contrition for sin tell us that we're all slaves to certain bad habits, tendencies and attitudes. Lent is a good time to consider how addicted (enslaved) we may be to our public image and honors, to hatred and fears, to needless anxieties, angers and resentments, to greed, sloth and selfish desires. Today's Gospel gives us the promise of freedom. We believe in Jesus's word: "I came from God and am here." We believe in that Truth that sets us free.

Meanwhile, today's liturgical readings start with joy in the first reading and responsorial psalm. Both are from the third chapter of the book of Daniel, although some of us use Bible versions in which Daniel is much shorter than in the standard "Catholic" version. Thus some may not see in mid-chapter the long "Song of the Three Jews" as the section is headed in the edition I've been using. But I think all versions of the Old Testament in use today include the marvelous story of these three young men known as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, those wonderful names given to them in the court of Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar.

The young men sing their long hymn of praise to the one God of the Israelites, and refuse to worship Nebuchadnezzar's god. Pushed into a fantastically hot furnace, they live to demonstrate the saving power of God. Where three men fell into the furnace, four are seen walking around within the flames. And that "fourth looks like a son of God." I know commentators and artists through the ages have interpreted the fourth as an angel, sometimes as Michael the Archangel, but I like to think that this is an image of Jesus Christ walking with these three men, faithful descendents of Abraham. Yes, the miraculous story takes place centuries before the birth of Jesus of Nazareth in history, but it also represents, to me, Christ with us in the middle of our trials and dangers, present because these people believe in the Father who sends the Son.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego don't know if they will be saved from death in the furnace, although they know God could save them if He so wished. They only know their faith in God, the Truth that sets them free. My own faith tells me that Truth may free us from the fire of hatred and violence, the ice of selfishness, resentment, loneliness and despair. Thus the psalm's refrain on this Wednesday in Lent: "Glory and praise for ever!"

Preface for Meditation:
by Prince Mathew

The Old Testament prepared us for the coming of the Christ, the Messiah, who will save us from eternal death. "And I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding," (Jeremiah 3:15). Along this same line of preparing us for the Messiah, we read about John the Baptist, who is commonly referred to as the forerunner of Jesus. "He (John) came for the testimony, to bear witness to the light, that all might believe through him," (John 1:7). John was baptizing to cleanse those who had sinned. "The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and he said, ‘Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world’," (John 1:29). After this, Jesus wanted to be baptized but "John would have prevented him saying, ‘I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me’? But Jesus answered him, saying ‘Let it be so now; for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness," (Matthew 3:14-5). Thus, Jesus, the only sinless one, is baptized, identifying Himself with sinners, whom John had baptized.

Besides being referred to as the lamb, Jesus is also described as a shepherd, who watches over his flock (mankind). Jesus is the "good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep," (John 10:11). We also know that even when we feel abandoned and alone, Jesus, the shepherd, will not flee or leave us desolate. This is so because "he who is hireling and not a shepherd whose own sheep are not, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hireling and cares nothing for the sheep. I (Jesus) am the good shepherd; I know my own and my own know me, as the Father knows me and I know the Father, and I lay down my life for the sheep," (John 10:11-5). This quote is extremely important and beautiful, in the sense that it gives a real life depiction of the love that the shepherd has for his sheep, or a parent to his children. It also relates to us the passionate love God has for us. If we follow the shepherd and listen to him, he will "give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand," (John 10:28).

Jesus is always faithful to us and gives us a chance for eternal life with Him, His Father, and Spirit in their Kingdom, but like Judas we have betrayed Jesus and like Peter we have denied Him. Because of these acts, Jesus was arrested and turned over to the Romans. They "stripped him and put a scarlet robe upon him and platting a crown of thorns, they put it on his head, and put a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him they mocked him, and took the reed and struck him on the head. And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the robe, and put his own clothes on him, and led him away to crucify him," (Matthew 27:28-31).

Jesus, Son of God the Father, suffered this humiliation for us. By His death we live, by His descent into Hades we ascend into Heaven. Jesus is our paschal lamb, our sacrifice, the true sacrifice.

"And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine upon it, for the glory of God is its light and its lamp is the Lamb. By its light shall the nations walk; and the kings of the earth shall bring their glory into it, and its gates shall never be shut," (Revelation 21:22-5).

Bible Reading Passages:
Wednesday before Hosanna

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

Evening

Morning

Gospel Readings:

Matthew 8:23-9:1 (KJV)

And when he was entered into a ship, his disciples followed him.

And, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves: but he was asleep.

And his disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish.

And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm.

But the men marvelled, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him!

And when he was come to the other side into the country of the Gergesenes, there met him two possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way.

And, behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time?

And there was a good way off from them an herd of many swine feeding.

So the devils besought him, saying, If thou cast us out, suffer us to go away into the herd of swine.

And he said unto them, Go. And when they were come out, they went into the herd of swine: and, behold, the whole herd of swine ran violently down a steep place into the sea, and perished in the waters.

And they that kept them fled, and went their ways into the city, and told every thing, and what was befallen to the possessed of the devils.

And, behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus: and when they saw him, they besought him that he would depart out of their coasts.

Matthew 9

And he entered into a ship, and passed over, and came into his own city.


Mark 4:35-41 (KJV)

And the same day, when the even was come, he saith unto them, Let us pass over unto the other side.

And when they had sent away the multitude, they took him even as he was in the ship. And there were also with him other little ships.

And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full.

And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish?

And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.

And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?

And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?

Bible Verse of the Day:

The men were amazed and asked, "What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!"
St. Matthew 8:27

Intercessions:

Blessed be God, the giver of salvation, who decreed that mankind should become a new creation in himself,
when all would be made new. With great confidence let us ask him:
Lord, renew us in your Spirit.

Lord, you promised a new heaven and a new earth; renew us daily through your Spirit,
- that we may enjoy your presence for ever in the heavenly Jerusalem.
Help us to work with you to make this world alive with your Spirit,
- and to build on earth a city of justice, love and peace.
Free us from all negligence and sloth,
- and give us joy in your gifts of grace.
Deliver us from evil,
- and from slavery to the senses, which blinds us to goodness.

Closing Prayer:

Loving Creator,
I know in your great love for me,
you see the deep sorrow in my heart.
Hear my prayers which are offered with such trust in you.

Be with me in both mind and heart
as I renew my life in your spirit.

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

Source: Portions from: Creighton University Praying Lent

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