Malankara World

Great Lent Today

Day 14 - Third Sunday of the Great Lent

M'Shariyo/Paralytic Sunday

Opening Prayer

O God, who have commanded us
to listen to your beloved Son,
be pleased, we pray,
to nourish us inwardly by your word,
that, with spiritual sight made pure,
we may rejoice to behold your glory.
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):

Genesis 22:1-2, 9, 10-13, 15-18; Psalm 116:10, 15, 16-19; Romans 8:31-34; Mark 9:2-10

In His Steps - A Lenten Series

Today: Cana: A Quiet Miracle Saves the Day

Daily Meditation:

Listen to him.
It is wonderful to begin this week
acknowledging that we need God's help in listening and hearing.
It is so powerful to ask for the "gift of integrity" -
to express our desire for wholeness.
And, we humbly ask for light in the midst of whatever
might "shadow our vision."
This is the God who allows Jesus
to be transfigured before his disciples,
to prepare them for what they were about to face.
This is our God, who can give each of us
the change of heart we ask for.

O LORD, I am your servant;
I am your servant;
To you will I offer sacrifice of thanksgiving,
and I will call upon the name of the LORD.
Psalm 116

Today's Daily Reflection

by Larry Gillick, S.J.
Deglman Center for Ignatian Spirituality, Creighton University

PRE-PRAYERING

We are in a continual movement toward the Holy Mountain of the Eucharistic altar. Many churches have been built atop rises and hills to emphasize the "aboveness" of the Holy God. Amazing things happen in the scriptures up on top of mountains. We live on the level though and the Holy "aboveness" of God, while real, is revealed so that we live holy lives in the "belowness".

We prepare to approach the Holy and the Holy is always approaching us. We do not have visions and direct conversations with the Holy One, but there are sightings and whispers which do lead us through our "ups" and "downs" of our unlevel ways.

REFLECTION

When I was a young child Sunday afternoons were dedicated to attending the Liberty Theater in Milwaukee for cowboy movies, cartoons and of course, coming attractions. These, though we didn't know it, were designed to make sure that our Sunday's obligation would be fulfilled again next week.

There were fantastic visions of beauty and bravado. Promises made and broken. There were delightful love-encounters which made us all squirm and laugh and feel good about life. It was all very real until we had to walk out into the late-afternoon SHADOWS.

The Book of Genesis is a complex collection of stories which lead the reader to an understanding of how Israel depicted its history and beginning identity as God's Holy People. We hear in today's First Reading, a foundational experience for that history. Fertility of body and land is the determinal blessing from God. Infertility would be a sign of God's displeasure.

Abram has no son and wonders how his name and family will continue. Will he ever have a legitimate son of his own flesh? What we hear is the conversation between God and Abram about this matter. Descendants will be plentiful and Abram does put his trust in the promise and the Promise-Maker. This is a tremendous area, this fertility, and Abram trusts.

This act of faith sets up the conditions for an important display or revelation by God. A covenant, or bonding contract, will be made by God. Both parties agree and walking between two parts of a slaughtered bull or ox would be like shaking hands. Well, even more so, each party states by this walking that if either breaks the contract, what happens to the animal should be done to the violator. The covenant is made by the more powerful to the less and is usually based on the awareness that the more powerful has been abundantly benevolent in the past and plans to continue. A promise for that future is made to Abram and it will be an abundance of land. So land and descendants predicting fertility are the beginning of Israel's relationship with their mysterious God. Abram has to believe that what he has seen and heard is real.

Now for the Coming Attractions. Luke's Gospel has presented Jesus as speaking to the disciples about how following him will involve suffering. Then Jesus takes three of his followers up a mountain and while there, is "transfigured" or seen differently. It is quite a light-show, complete with sound effects. More dazzling than his brightness was the state of his disciples after Jesus comes back to their senses. There are important elements offered by Luke to his readers about Jesus and discipleship during this experience. They have to do with "coming attractions" in the life of Jesus and the lives of his followers. Moses and Elijah are pictured as speaking to Jesus "of His exodus". This "exodus" of Jesus will be his living out the Paschal mission of being the Lamb to be slain.

The disciples would rather build three tents of gratitude as in the traditional celebration of Sukkot or Booths. Jesus is presented on this particular mountain as being in his glory. What is the "coming attraction" will be on another hill's top and in a definite, but different manner, it will be even a greater scene of glory. It will be a "figuration" which will claim God's people again from slavery to freedom and service.

There is an increasing sense in the more affluent countries of the world, of "entitlement". The disciples have this sense of requesting selfish possession of Jesus' glory and truth. Jesus heads them back down the mountain, inviting them to put aside, again, their self-preoccupation. Entitlement flows from a sense that we deserve only the glorious, intimate experiences of relationships and full meaning. Our wealth can provide many things, so much so, that we can begin to believe that we actually deserve everything. We should have power, health, ease, first-places at the head of lines. Life is owed to us and at the highest experiences. It is natural to desire this, but to expect it, demand it from God and others is not relational. The "exodus" referred to by Moses and Elijah moves Christ's followers off their mountains of entitlement to the acceptance of their actual "titlement" as followers who will suffer with and for him.

Jesus' coming down that mountain and heading for Jerusalem is the invitation to us to not take the Jerusalem bypass, but live with and through our own experiences of exodus. We are "titled" Human, Beloved, Called, Sent in and with him. These titles entitle us to all the graces of God's love as we walk his walk into our final transglorification with him.

The disciples walked out of their own Liberty Theater having participated in quite a show. They, like myself as a little boy, had to face the real. As the movie might have inspired me to be more brave, loving, and quick on the draw, the disciples were encouraged to live more closely with the Master and more faithfully as receivers of his call to follow.

"This is my beloved Son in Whom I am well pleased; listen to Him."

Daily Reflection

by Larry Gillick, S.J.
Deglman Center for Ignatian Spirituality, Creighton University

Genesis 22:1-2, 9a, 10-13, 15-18
Psalm 116:10+15, 16-17, 18-19
Romans 8:31b-34
Mark 9:2-10

The grace we ask for in the Collect for today's Eucharistic liturgy has to do with our two senses of hearing and seeing. We pray to distinguish between the Word of God and projecting our selfish desires into God's Word. Hearing differs from listening and we pray to allow the Word of God into the center of our lives where we can listen to it and to what that Word calls us.

We are invited also to pray for seeing better in Christ's Light so to become familiar with the path that leads to true life. The light for which we pray is not the same as clarity of course. Our readings for this liturgy and the spirituality of Lent call us to a faith and a listening which lead to our trusting God.

REFLECTION

The First Reading and the Gospel for this liturgy present us with two experiences of liturgy, in a way. There is a going up, a preparation or calling together, a central act of faith, a "Word of God", a surprising revelation of the "real presence of God, and a going onward.

We hear first of the terrifying story of Abraham's being tested by God. He is called to take his only son Isaac to a distant place and sacrifice him by the knife and then burning him on an altar which Isaac would help build. Abraham takes his son who helps carry the fire and the wood and off they go in a journey of trust. Upon arrival at a divinely-pointed-out hill, the dirty deed is set in motion, no questions asked, except by Isaac who asks about the lamb to be slain.

At the point of the knife's being about to enter Isaac who has been bound and placed on the altar, the voice of the Lord's messenger calls for a timeout. Abraham has proven his faith so that he is not only the father of Isaac still, but the "Father of Faith" and the eternal model for the People of God. A ram is tangled up in a near-by bush and so God has provided the means for the sacrifice rather than Abraham

A promise is then made by the Messenger of God that, through Abraham, as he continues living in faith, his descendants who will increase through this same Isaac, will flourish and possess a land of blessing.

The Gospel presents us with the "Transfiguration", or the "the Changing of the Garb". Peter, James and John go up a hill with Jesus. They have a most intimate encounter with Jesus, God the Beyond, and of course, themselves. Jesus dazzles His followers with some state of glorification. Moses and Elijah are seen conversing with Jesus. Moses is the "man of the Law" and Elijah the "man of Prophesy". Jesus is the fulfillment of the Law and the prophets and the "voice" again ordains Him as "My beloved Son." The terrified trio is encouraged also to, "Listen to Him."

Immediately, there they are, just the four again and nobody else, no other sounds. They leave with this experience and their questions about what all this was about. They are charged also not to speak about it until the "rising from the dead", and they did not understand this either, but they kept on walking back down from this hill of intimacy.

Most of us orient our lives, in varying degrees, toward and from the Eucharistic liturgy. We try also to be women and men who pray, what ever that means. Abraham and Isaac have an extreme close calling with God. Peter, James and John experience an unusual convention and communion. The befuddled-beholders go off into the regular, back-down-the-hill living of their lives. Their faith seems to be strengthened, but at the same time their understanding seems to experience bewilderment. They would naturally be asking themselves about the "realness" of what had just happened.

One of the great joys of human intimacy is that it goes beyond reason. I enjoy asking couples whom I have the privilege to be preparing for marriage, "Why do you love her/him?" The relationships I trust the most are those who fumble around for words which might express some good reasons. Love is not all that reasonable. When there are many verbal reasons, I suspect this is a transaction and not a transfiguration.

Devotion, prayer, liturgy are such calls to simple and honest closeness, that to try to figure it out and explain it cheapens it and flattens it out into a practice rather than a delight.

As with Abraham, Isaac, Peter, James and John, we go toward a time of being met by the Holy, given something of ourselves by the encouragement and comfort of God's presence and then sent away, but always the little question, "Was that really real?" "Was I talking to myself, comforting myself, judging myself?" Intimacy does not lead to comprehending, but to the sending, the living, the transfiguring, or changing, because we are so loved.

I love the Eucharist for so many reasons, but one of the very prime reasons is that it defies adequate intellectual explanation and I love that freedom from the factual, the scientific, the demand of my arrogant mind. The Eucharist is more than a transfiguration; it is a total "trans" from a something to a Somebody. The Somebody's changing of the other somebodies who gather around the Holy Place is also unexplainable, but real. The closer we allow Jesus to come toward and within us, the more we, individually and communally, are transfigured and re-presented to the world. The world cannot adequately explain our living as His New and Real Presence. We will never know if our prayer was real. Abraham is our Father of Faith and our brothers of faith walked down that hill with questions, doubts and wonderings about what in Heaven's Name was all that about? Questions do not dampen faith, cheap answers do. Living the faith is the proof of intimacy, just as living out married love intensifies and proves the leap.

Three apostles could not have explained adequately what had really happened up there. They continued to appear freer to respond to their futures. I wish to leave every liturgy or times of personal prayer, less able to explain why I live the way I do. I would wish to be a befuddlement and in a sense be a transfigurational experience, not easily explained away. I would love my life to be beyond reasonable and yet invitingly available and personal.

"I will walk before the Lord, in the land of the living. I believed, even when I said, 'I am greatly afflicted.'" Responsorial Psalm, 116

Preface for Meditation
by Prince Mathew

Repentance is the sacrament which God gave us for our salvation. Repentance is the act of our co-laboring with the Creator; the miracle of transforming the old into new, dirty into clean, ill into whole. The foundation of the sacrament of repentance is the realization of one’s deadly sinful illness, a clear vision of one’s demise. Only he who understands that he is ill will run to the Physician; only he who sees that he is perishing will call out to the Savior; and only he who wants to be well will follow the rubrics prescribed by the Physician and take the necessary Medicine.

In repentance, a man separates himself from sin, learns not to be one with it, and begins to understand that he is an image of God, but sin is a horrible caricature, corruption, and illness. Having seen the ugliness of sin, a man turns away from it, opens his wound to the Physician, and begs for healing. It is in this movement of man to God—one who is ill to the Source of health—and God to man—the Physician to one who needs His help—it is in this union of the two mutually-directed acts that the sacrament of repentance takes place.

Bible Reading for Today:

Third Sunday of Great Lent (Palsy Sunday)

Evening

Morning

Before Holy Qurbana

Holy Qurbana

Gospel Readings

Luke 5:17-26 (KJV)

And it came to pass on a certain day, as he was teaching, that there were Pharisees and doctors of the law sitting by, which were come out of every town of Galilee, and Judaea, and Jerusalem: and the power of the Lord was present to heal them.

And, behold, men brought in a bed a man which was taken with a palsy: and they sought means to bring him in, and to lay him before him.

And when they could not find by what way they might bring him in because of the multitude, they went upon the housetop, and let him down through the tiling with his couch into the midst before Jesus.

And when he saw their faith, he said unto him, Man, thy sins are forgiven thee.

And the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, Who is this which speaketh blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone?

But when Jesus perceived their thoughts, he answering said unto them, What reason ye in your hearts?

Whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Rise up and walk?

But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power upon earth to forgive sins, (he said unto the sick of the palsy,) I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy couch, and go into thine house.

And immediately he rose up before them, and took up that whereon he lay, and departed to his own house, glorifying God.

And they were all amazed, and they glorified God, and were filled with fear, saying, We have seen strange things to day.

John 5:1-18 (KJV)

After this there was a feast of the Jews; and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.

Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches.

In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water.

For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had.

And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years.

When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole?

The impotent man answered him, Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me.

Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk.

And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was the sabbath.

The Jews therefore said unto him that was cured, It is the sabbath day: it is not lawful for thee to carry thy bed.

He answered them, He that made me whole, the same said unto me, Take up thy bed, and walk.

Then asked they him, What man is that which said unto thee, Take up thy bed, and walk?

And he that was healed wist not who it was: for Jesus had conveyed himself away, a multitude being in that place.

Afterward Jesus findeth him in the temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.

The man departed, and told the Jews that it was Jesus, which had made him whole.

And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him, because he had done these things on the sabbath day.

But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.

Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.

Mark 2:1-12 (KJV)

And again he entered into Capernaum after some days; and it was noised that he was in the house.

And straightway many were gathered together, insomuch that there was no room to receive them, no, not so much as about the door: and he preached the word unto them.

And they come unto him, bringing one sick of the palsy, which was borne of four.

And when they could not come nigh unto him for the press, they uncovered the roof where he was: and when they had broken it up, they let down the bed wherein the sick of the palsy lay.

When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee.

But there was certain of the scribes sitting there, and reasoning in their hearts,

Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? who can forgive sins but God only?

And immediately when Jesus perceived in his spirit that they so reasoned within themselves, he said unto them, Why reason ye these things in your hearts?

Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk?

But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (he saith to the sick of the palsy,)

I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house.

And immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went forth before them all; insomuch that they were all amazed, and glorified God, saying, We never saw it on this fashion.

Bible Verse for the Day:

Which is easier: to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Get up and walk'? - St. Luke 5:23

Intercessions:

Let us praise our loving Redeemer, who gained for us this season of grace,
and pray to him, saying:
Lord, create a new spirit in us.

Christ, our life, through baptism we were buried with you and rose to life with you,
- may we walk today in newness of life.
Lord, you have brought blessings to all mankind,
- bring us to share your concern for the good of all.
May we work together to build up the earthly city,
- with our eyes fixed on the city that lasts for ever.
Healer of body and soul, cure the sickness of our spirit,
- so that we may grow in holiness through your constant care.

Closing Prayer:

Loving God,
there is so much darkness in my life
and I hide from you.
Take my hand
and lead me out of the shadows of my fear.
Help me to change my heart.
Bring me to your truth
and help me to respond to your generous love.
Let me recognize the fullness of your love
which will fill my life.
Free me from the darkness in my heart.

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

Source: Portions from: Creighton University Praying Lent

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