Malankara World

Great Lent Today

DAY 5 - First Friday of Great Lent

Daily Lent Prayer

"Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth shall declare your praise."

Collect:

Almighty ever-living God,
look with compassion on our weakness
and ensure us your protection
by stretching forth the right hand of your majesty.
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

Isaiah 58: 1-9a; Psalm 51: 3-4, 5-6ab, 18-19; Matthew 9: 14-15

In His Steps - A Lenten Series

Today: Egypt: Jesus' Temporary Home

Daily Meditation:

A Friday of Lent
and an introduction to "True Fasting."
We are still in the first four days of Lent.
Today and tomorrow we read the 58th Chapter
of the book of the prophet Isaiah.
These powerful words have such a contemporary message.
True fasting will lead us to act justly and caring
for those who are most in need.

On every Friday of Lent we abstain from meat
as a sign of our common penance.
It represents our efforts to abstain from
- do without - so many other patterns
that get in the way of our happiness and wholeness.

Daily Reflection

by Andy Alexander, S.J.
Creighton University Ministry and the Collaborative Ministry Office

This is the first of the Friday's of Lent. Today we reflect upon the powerful Lenten theme of fasting. During this first part of Lent, the first reading is the key reading and the gospel is chosen to match that reading. Isaiah, chapter 58 is our guide for this weekend - today, and in the moving second half of the chapter tomorrow. Reading this chapter, slowly, carefully, can be a wonderful help to begin Lent.

In Isaiah's preaching to the people, we have a contemporary message for our hearts. God wants the prophet to deliver this message to the people, to point out some powerful issues for their conversion.

It begins with tough irony. God says that the people ask God "to declare what is due them,"
“Why do we fast, and you do not see it?
afflict ourselves, and you take no note of it?”

The contemporary version of this is that we, too, often blame God for the troubles we get ourselves in. And, we want to make a request of God to make our lives happier, or to relieve some distress, and expect God to jump to our desires.

Isaiah really challenges the people for their lack of sincerity and integrity. The answer to their question is simple: the reason they don't have access to their God is that their supposed "days of fasting" are actually days of injustice - pseudo-religious activity which covers over the way they treat others.
Do you call this a fast,
a day acceptable to the LORD?

Then Isaiah sets them - and us - straight about true fasting:
This, rather, is the fasting that I wish:
releasing those bound unjustly,
untying the thongs of the yoke;
Setting free the oppressed,
breaking every yoke;
Sharing your bread with the hungry,
sheltering the oppressed and the homeless;
Clothing the naked when you see them,
and not turning your back on your own.

In one of the most beautiful lines in scripture, Isaiah delivers God's message:
When we act justly - when these are the sacrifices we make in love for those in need -
Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
and your wound shall quickly be healed;

Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer,
you shall cry for help, and he will say: Here I am!

This reading - and its second half tomorrow - are a great reflection on how we might decide to fast during these six weeks of Lent. Of course, we will also want to fast from food on the Fridays of Lent. In addition to that, we can ask ourselves, Are there concrete acts of compassion and justice which can become a part of my Lenten journey? After all, aren't these the changes in our hearts which will lead us to deeper conversion? The fasting from food can become the preparation - our experience of surrender of "our own pursuits" and can heighten our awareness and prepare for our change of heart regarding those in need around us.

Sometimes, the change in our attitude, in our compassion and love, begins close to home - loving our family members better. Today and every Friday of Lent could be special days of practicing special care for those we need to love with more appreciation and sensitive, thoughtful care. That love and compassion can then spread out, allowing us to examine our consciences about how we can act more justly in our hearts, in our choices, in our generosity.

This Lent can become a time in which our hearts are drawn closer to our Lord's own heart - and the blessing he promises us: if we die to ourselves we will find ourselves.

Source: Creighton University's Online Ministries

Preface for Meditation
by Prince Mathew

Lent is the period of time for self-examination by the believer; of putting on the spiritual armor of the Church; of applying the riches of prayers and almsgiving; of adopting deeply the meaning of repentance; of atonement and reconciliation with God Almighty.

During the period of the Great Lent the awakening of the spirit of man comes about through inspiration from the Head of the Church, Jesus Christ. It is a time of self-examination and preparation, and of taking an inventory of one's inner life. He and Christ know his exact condition. At this time one sees himself in the mirror of the Gospel - how he looks. One finds the means and ways to correct and improve himself.

Lent is a period of time when one delves into himself with the light of the Holy Spirit in order to rid himself of the impediments which hold him back. It is a period when one strengthens his faith by more prayer and devotional life. During the period of fasting one makes a special attempt to evaluate his calling as a Christian; to listen to the voice of the Gospel and heed its commandments; to accept the constant invitation to enter Christ's Kingdom.

Bible Reading:

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

Evening

Morning

Gospel Readings:

Matthew 5:17-37 (KJV)

17Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.

18For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.

19Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

20For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.

21Ye have heard that it was said of them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment:

22But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.

23Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee;

24Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.

25Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison.

26Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing.

27Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery:

28But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

29And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.

30And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.

31It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement:

32But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.

33Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths:

34But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God's throne:

35Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King.

36Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black.

37But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.

Verse for the Day:

St. Matthew 5:19 "Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven".

Source: Malankara World

Intercessions:

Let us pray to Christ our Savior, who redeemed us by his death and resurrection:
Lord, have mercy on us.

You went up to Jerusalem to suffer and so enter into your glory,
- bring your Church to the Passover feast of heaven.

You were lifted high on the cross and pierced by the soldier's lance,
- heal our wounds.

You made the cross the tree of life,
- give its fruit to those reborn in baptism.

On the cross you forgave the repentant thief,
- forgive us our sins.

Closing Prayer:

Lord,
I know how much you love me.
It’s hard for me to feel it sometimes,
but I know your love is always with me.

Help me to use your love as a way
to persevere in my Lenten intentions.
I am weak, but I know with your help,
I can use these small sacrifices in my life to draw closer to you.

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

Source: Creighton University Online Ministries

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