Malankara World

Great Lent Today

Day 20 - Third Saturday of the Great Lent

Opening Prayer

O God, who grant us by glorious healing remedies while still on earth
to be partakers of the things of heaven,
guide us, we pray, through this present life
and bring us to that light in which you dwell.
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)

Micah 7:14-15, 18-20; Psalm 103:1-4,9-12; Luke 15:1-3,11-32

In His Steps - A Lenten Series

Today: A Samaritan Village: One Thankful Man

Daily Meditation:

We must celebrate and rejoice.
The Saturdays of Lent have a wonderful spirit.
Our lesson today takes us to the parable of the two sons:
- one who is ungrateful and leaves, but returns, and
- one who will not accept the forgiveness
the father lavishes on the other.

The Lord is loving and merciful,
slow to anger, and full of love;
the Lord is kind to all, and compassionate
to all his creatures.
Entrance Antiphon

Today's Daily Reflection

by Robert P. Heaney, John A. Creighton University Chair

Micah 7:14-15, 18-20
Psalm 103:1-2, 3-4, 9-10, 11-12
Luke 15:1-3, 11-32

". . . My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways" (Isa 55:8).

Let's face it: God is not fair. The quote above from Isaiah is just one of many instances in which God has told us not to expect divine actions to conform to human norms. Still, we can't quite get our heads (and our hearts) around the issue. If we were to be honest, how many of us think the older brother in today's Gospel got a raw deal? In his complaint to his father we can almost hear him say "It's not fair!" How many of us, in his shoes, wouldn't say exactly that ourselves?
How have we gotten it so wrong?

We live in a country where fairness is both sought and expected. We don't think it fair that the wealthy don't pay their share of supporting our society. Our legal system aspires to fairness – handling everyone equally (or at least we expect it to). These ideals are surely not wrong – especially given the fact that, as fallible humans, we cannot assess true need. Fairness is about the only way most of us have to distribute the varied goods of our society – the things to which we have a right, either by birth or by citizenship. But these expectations founder when we move to the level of divine love. Sure, the prodigal didn't "deserve" the welcome he got, anymore than his brother "deserved" his father's love. The prodigal at least admitted it.

Love isn't a human commodity even when we humans act out of love; love is a divine gift. None of us deserves God's forgiveness and acceptance. Nevertheless God offers them without strings. Today's first reading, from the prophet Micah, makes that abundantly clear. God "removes guilt and pardons sin . . . does not persist in anger but delights rather in clemency . . . treading underfoot our guilt". And Jesus, in Luke's gospel, tells a story that acts out that divine love in terms impossible to miss. What we have to do is to drop our concerns for deservedness and accept what God freely offers.
Look at the negative side of the transaction in today's Gospel. As soon as I say (or think) "It's not fair", where's my focus? Why, it's on me, ME! God is not focused on God's self, God is focused instead on self-giving. God is self-giving (1 John 4:8). How can I be, in any sense, true to the image in which I am made, the image and likeness of God, when I am concerned first about me? About getting my fair share?

I suspect that, at some level, most of us feel that God couldn't possibly love us. We know we're not deserving, but we don't seem to understand that that doesn't matter. God knows us better than we know ourselves, but God cares about us and for us anyhow. Not grasping that truth in the depth of our being, is, I think, where the train starts to go off the tracks.

Preface for Meditation:

"Can one feed these with bread here in the desert?"
by Don Schwager

Scripture: Mark 8:1-10

Can anything on earth truly satisfy the hunger we experience for God? The enormous crowd that pressed upon Jesus for three days were hungry for something more than physical food. They hung upon Jesus’ words because they were hungry for God. When the disciples were confronted by Jesus with the task of feeding four thousand people many miles away from any source of food, they exclaimed: Where in this remote place can anyone get enough bread to feed them? The Israelites were confronted with the same dilemma when they fled Egypt and found themselves in a barren wilderness. Like the miraculous provision of manna in the wilderness, Jesus, himself provides bread in abundance for the hungry crowd who came out into the desert to seek him. The gospel records that all were satisfied and they took up what was leftover. When God gives he gives abundantly -- more than we deserve and more than we need. He nourishes us with his life-giving word and with the bread of heaven.

The sign of the multiplication of the loaves when the Lord says the blessing, breaks and distributes through his disciples prefigures the superabundance of the unique bread of his Eucharist or Lord’s Supper. When we receive from the Lord’s table we unite ourselves to Jesus Christ, who makes us sharers in his body and blood. Ignatius of Antioch (35-107 A.D.) calls it the "one bread that provides the medicine of immortality, the antidote for death, and the food that makes us live for ever in Jesus Christ" (Ad Eph. 20,2). This supernatural food is healing for both body and soul and strength for our journey heavenward. When you approach the Table of the Lord, what do you expect to receive? Healing, pardon, comfort, and rest for your soul? The Lord has much more for us, more than we can ask or imagine. The principal fruit of receiving the Eucharist is an intimate union with Christ. As bodily nourishment restores lost strength, so the Eucharist strengthens us in charity and enables us to break with disordered attachments to creatures and to be more firmly rooted in the love of Christ. Do you hunger for the bread of life?

"Lord, you alone can satisfy. Fill me with gratitude and longing for the true bread of heaven which gives strength and healing for body and soul."

(c) 2000 Don Schwager

Bible Reading Passages:

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

Before Holy Qurbana

Holy Qurbana

Gospel Readings:

Mark 8:1-10 (KJV)

In those days the multitude being very great, and having nothing to eat, Jesus called his disciples unto him, and saith unto them,

I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now been with me three days, and have nothing to eat:

And if I send them away fasting to their own houses, they will faint by the way: for divers of them came from far.

And his disciples answered him, From whence can a man satisfy these men with bread here in the wilderness?

And he asked them, How many loaves have ye? And they said, Seven.

And he commanded the people to sit down on the ground: and he took the seven loaves, and gave thanks, and brake, and gave to his disciples to set before them; and they did set them before the people.

And they had a few small fishes: and he blessed, and commanded to set them also before them.

So they did eat, and were filled: and they took up of the broken meat that was left seven baskets.

And they that had eaten were about four thousand: and he sent them away.

And straightway he entered into a ship with his disciples, and came into the parts of Dalmanutha.

Bible Verse of the Day:

"I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat". - St. Mark 8:2

Intercessions:

Let us always and everywhere give thanks to Christ our Savior, and ask him with confidence:
Lord, help us with your grace.

May we keep our bodies pure,
- as temples of the Holy Spirit.
May we offer ourselves this day to the service of others,
- and do your will in all things throughout the day.
Teach us to seek the bread of everlasting life,
- the bread that is your gift.
May your Mother, the refuge of sinners, pray for us,
- and gain for us your loving forgiveness.

Closing Prayer:

God of infinite love,
you shower me with limitless gifts in my life.
In my every thought and action today
guide me to the bright and loving light of your kingdom.
Help me to be aware of
the many ways you allow me
to share in your life so intimately today.
Thank you for the gifts you have placed in my life.
Let me be grateful every moment of this day.

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

Source: Portions from: Creighton University Praying Lent

Great Lent Today Archives | Yesterday | Tomorrow

Great Lent Home | Sermons Home | General Sermons and Essays | Articles Home | Library - Home | Baselios Church Home

-------
Malankara World
A service of St. Basil's Syriac Orthodox Church, Ohio
Copyright © 2009-2017 - ICBS Group. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer
Website designed, built, and hosted by International Cyber Business Services, Inc., Hudson, Ohio