Malankara World Journal - Christian Spirituality from an Orthodox Perspective
Malankara World Journal
Great Lent Week 2, Prayer, Love
Volume 6 No. 331 February 12, 2016
This is a busy week. So, the journal is bigger than normal to cover everything.

Manjinikkara Festival

On February 12-13, we celebrate the Dukhrono Festival of HH LL Ignatius Elias III of Manjinikkara. Faithful from all over Kerala and outside will make their annual pilgrimage to Omallur and pray for the saint's intercession. Southern Kerala will transform into a colorful display of chariots ('radhams'), another sight to see. The people on the side of the road of the pilgrimage route wait with snacks, drinks, as well provide rest facilities to the pilgrims. So, both the pilgrims as well as those who them will receive the blessings from the intercession of this saint.

Valentine's Day - Love

On February 14, we celebrate the Valentine's Day, the day for lovers. Everyone has different concept of what love is. The best example of love is God itself, for God is love. God loved the world so much that he sent his only begotten son to save and redeem us. It was the ultimate demonstration of sacrificial-unconditional love or "agape" love. We can learn from this example from God to model our Christian lives. This week's supplement covers a few aspects of this "True Love" and how we can use that in our family lives.

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.
- 1 Corinthians 13:1-3

This Sunday in Great Lent

This Sunday, February 14, we begin our second week of Great Lent. During Lent, the Holy Church has chosen a miracle/sign performed by Jesus Christ during his public ministry for study/introspection. Last week, it was the first sign/miracle performed by Jesus, viz., the miracle in Cana when Jesus changed water into wine. On the second Sunday of Great Lent, we look at the healing of the Leper ('Garbo' in Syriac) as described in Luke 5:12-16. Jesus answers the prayer of the leper and not only heals him of leprosy, but also touches him. Jesus wanted to heal his emotional disease as well as the physical affliction. We have covered this miracle in this issue of Malankara World Journal as well as in the prior issues of the Journal as indicated.


As we mentioned in our previous issues, for most people, lent simply means abstaining from some food items ("fasting"). But true lent is not about food. The main hallmarks of lent are three-fold, viz., prayer, charity (alms-giving) and fasting. Today, we will examine prayer, the most important requirement of a true lent.

There are many different types of prayer. We can pray directly to God. We can seek someone else to pray for us - intercessional prayer. Sometimes the beneficiary may not even be aware of our prayer; but can benefit from the prayer. All the miracles/signs the Holy Church has selected for the Sundays of the Great Lent are examples of the Prayer. On the first Sunday, mother of church initiates the prayer request. She asks Jesus to help the host family as they are out of wine. It appears that she has initiated this without the knowledge of the host family and Jesus Christ grants her intercessional prayer.

On the second Sunday (this week), the leper prays directly to Jesus. Jesus hears and prayer and answers the prayer.

On the third Sunday, several friends bring a paralytic man to Jesus for healing. We do not know if they bring him at the request of the paralytic; or his friends initiated the action for him. Obviously, he is aware of what is going on. No words were said. Jesus see the "faith" and grants the prayer. It is answering an unspoken prayer.

On week 4, we meet the most interesting person, the Canaanite woman who came to Jesus on behalf of her daughter - example of intercessional prayer. She shows us the persistence of prayer - something Jesus taught us during his Sermon on the Mount.

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.
Matthew 7:7-12

The Canaanite woman just would not take 'no' for an answer and continued her prayer until Jesus answered her prayer. James told us about the fervent or persistent prayer:

The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.
- James 5:16

On week 5, we meet the Crippled woman. She was in temple praying. Jesus saw her and grants her prayer. The woman did not approach Jesus directly. But as the second person of the trinity, all the prayers are directed to him too and Jesus can answer the prayers.

One week 6, the last Sunday before the passion week, we meet the blind man. It is one of the longest gospel reading during our qurbana. From the point of view of prayer, again Jesus initiates the action because of his compassion towards the blind man. The blind man did not know of Jesus. He obviously had been praying for several years for his healing and God answers unexpectedly. (The same thing happened to Zechariah in a least expected setting - at the holiest of the holies.)

One of the interesting thing we note from the miracles in week 5 and 6 is that when God initiates the healing, He will ask the recipient if he/she want to be healed. The recipient has to say "yes" before God can proceed any further. This is true with anything God do. Jesus came to redeem us. He has paid the 'price.' But we need to ask for his grace before it can be given. In Revelation 3:20 God says:

Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
- Revelation 3:20

God will not impose upon us. We need to take the action to welcome him or to ask Him via prayers for his grace that is freely given.

In fact, this is further illustrated in our miracle on week 3, the paralytic. The friends bring the paralytic to Jesus. Jesus see him and was filled with compassion. He ask the paralytic to raise and walk with the bed. If the paralytic, who never walked in his life, believes and make attempt to follow the instructions from Jesus, he will be healed. If he does not believe, the opportunity to heal is lost just like the situation when we do not ask God for his grace.

Many people have the mistaken notion that only time we pray are when we recite our prayers in the morning and evening and other hours prescribed (yama prarthana). As one of the articles in today's Journal says, everything we do on earth is an act of prayer. When we serve the poor, it is prayer. When we help someone, like the friends of the paralytic did, it is an act of prayer. Of course, meditation is when we come in direct communication with God, like Jesus did when He went to a secluded place to pray. It is the private time, strictly between you and God. Others are public acts of prayer. Some are intercessional prayers when we intercede for someone. God hears all prayers.

'In His Steps' - New Addition to Lenten Daily Meditation

This year, we have added a new series called 'In His Steps' to the Daily Great Lent Reading. This series examines the life of Jesus from his birth in Bethlehem to his death in Calvary and the resurrection on Easter Sunday. Important aspects of His public ministry will be covered every day so that when we reach Easter, we would have covered the whole life and mission of Jesus Christ. We are walking with Jesus Christ during His lifetime on earth and get a feel for why he did what he did. We hope that, as a result of our walk together, we will come to know Christ better and to love him more.

Dr. Ray Pritchard, author of this devotional says, "No one who met our Lord ever stayed the same. The same is true today. May these Lenten devotionals help us all to say, 'Lord Jesus, I am ready to follow you!' "

You do not want to miss this series. If you have missed the early segments of this devotional, you can begin from here:
Nazareth (annunciation).

I hope that you will enjoy this meditative lenten series. Use the prayers, bible readings and other devotional material in Malankara World to supplement your lent.

Thank you for allowing us to serve you. Please pray for our mission.

Dr. Jacob Mathew
Malankara World


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