Volume 2 No. 64 March 18, 2012
Special Edition: Great Lent Week 5 If the Journal is not displayed properly, please click on the link below (or copy and paste) to read from web
Table of Contents
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A reflection on Hosea 6:1-6 and a prayer based on Psalm 51.
Why do we observe Lent? Is it just as a remembrance of the fasting that Christ went through or do we take the opportunity to focus on God and our spiritual life? I was wondering what does Lent mean for me. ...
The Golgotha and erection of cross in the of the church signifies that God came down from heaven and dwelt among us in this world. This is why the Golgotha is in the middle of the church with us, the common folks, and not in the Madbaha as we normally expect to find it. ...
|Inspiration for This Week|
"Come, let us return to the LORD,
it is he who has rent, but he will heal us;
he has struck us, but he will bind our wounds.
He will revive us after two days;
on the third day he will raise us up,
to live in his presence.
Let us know, let us strive to know the LORD;
What can I do with you, Ephraim?
For this reason I smote them through the prophets,
Prayer (Based on Psalm 51: 3-4, 18-19 and Hosea 6:1-6)
It is mercy I desire, and not sacrifice.
Read a commentary on Hosea 6:1-6 in
Malankara World. Does vv 1-2 refer to the death and
resurrection of Jesus Christ?
by Dr. Susan Jacob MD, Malankara World Board Member
Lent conjures up in that part of the New Testament describing the baptism of Christ by John the Baptist. After that, the Spirit led Jesus to the desert where he fasted for 40 days. (Matthew 4) When he was at his weakest point, God allowed him to be tempted. It was after this period of his testing, which he "passed" with flying colors, that Jesus started his ministry.
Why do we observe Lent? Is it just as a remembrance of the fasting that Christ went through or do we take the opportunity to focus on God and our spiritual life? I was wondering what does Lent mean for me. Of course fasting is the emphasized area of Lent. Fasting is good. Fasting is not just a biblical concept. Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists and other religions also use fasting as a tool to discipline the body and soul. Fasting is good for the physical health; but the main reason for us to fast is that it helps us to focus on God and our spiritual duties. It was because of Christ's focus on God and His laws and teachings during his fast that inspired him to give those specific answers to the devil during his temptation. When Christ was asked to change the stones into bread (Jesus used the well known verses of the Torah) he said " Man does not live on bread alone but every word that comes from the mouth of God." (Deuteronomy 8:2-4)
With his second temptation the devil challenged him to jump off the highest point of the temple on the premise that if he was the Son of God he would be protected by the angels. Satan probably thought he could "challenge" God as well. The answer was "you shall not test God." Don't we do this often? I have heard people of faith challenge God by saying, 'if you are truly God change this or that or do not let this particular disaster happen or why did you let 9-11 happen?' Instead Christ said: "do not test God" (or questions Him). If you have complete faith in God, you will know that He will never let real harm come your way.
The third temptation was very dramatic - Satan took Jesus to a high point and showed him the whole world and said that he would be prince of everything if he would bow down and worship the devil. Now I want each one of us to think and answer honestly. Who would reject all that power and wealth? How often do we, in our lives, manipulate, lie and cheat to out-maneuver someone to achieve some of this. But what did Jesus say? "Worship the Lord your God and Him only."
So, to me Jesus, through his fasting, learned to focus on God and His laws and teachings. Even though he was at his weakest, he was able to reject the devil and was able to quote the Bible correctly to counter Satan.
What is the reason for our earthly life? I believe that it is an opportunity given to us to learn and follow God and his teachings. Take nature, for instance. There are definite laws into which every life falls. There are actions and equal and opposite reactions. In other words, there are consequences to every action: e.g. all the pollution created by man is causing health problems today. Christ is our role model. He was tempted in all the ways humans can be tempted. Yet he, a human, rejected and overcame the temptations.
If Christ had made one mistake in his reactions or answers, none of us would be here today as Christians. But by his temptations and responses he has shown us that focus on God and spirituality is important. Faith is very important but deeds and faith work together. Just knowing what is in the Bible is not enough. The deeper challenges lay when asked to obey the Bible. There have been many non-believers who were well versed in the Bible; yet they have not followed Christ. Faith in Christ is the core of Christianity.
Christ showed that for faith and for following God's teaching, money, power, fame, etc are not necessary. Pure focus on God and spirituality and following His laws in words and deeds are all that is needed to develop a relationship with God. We will find His grace and help in our time of need. St. Paul made this clear in Hebrews 4:14-16:
Jesus the Great High Priest
14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven,
Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do
not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we
have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.
16 Let us then approach God's throne of grace with confidence, so that we may
receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
Read the following passage about fasting: Isaiah 58
1 "Shout it aloud, do not hold back.
2 For day after day they seek me out;
3 'Why have we fasted,' they say,
4 Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife,
5 Is this the kind of fast I have chosen,
6 "Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry
8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
9 Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
11 The Lord will guide you always;
12 Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins
13 "If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath
14 then you will find your joy in the Lord,
According to the church calendar, lent begins before the passion week. This time should be used to reflect, pray, repent and to prepare our hearts and lives to be ready to embrace the cross again.
Last Wednesday (March 14) was the midpoint of Lent; in Malayalam it is called Paathi Nombu. So, we have gone past the midpoint.
As we go to church this Sunday and a few Sundays thereafter we will see the 'Golgotha' erected in the middle of the church. There are several significances to the erection of Golgotha.
The Lectionary reading for Pathi Nombu was St. John 3: 13-21. This passage contains, perhaps, the most famous verse in the Bible, John 3:16 (God, so loved the world,..) But part of the Gospel reading passage also says: "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life." (John 3: 14-15). Jesus predicted his eventual crucifixion to his disciples in this verse.
Moses lifted up the bronze serpent in the middle of the desert (wilderness) around the middle of the Exodus, the journey of the Israelites from slavery to their promised land. He lifted up the serpent so that those who are bitten by the snake might look at it and have life. Similarly the cross (Jesus) is lifted up in the middle of the church so that we are reminded that those who are bitten by sin can look at Jesus and gain eternal life by the Him.
You can read more about the bible Gospel reading for Paathi Nombu in Malankara World:
The Golgotha and erection of cross in the of the church also signifies that God came down from heaven and dwelt among us in this world. This is why the Golgotha is in the middle of the church with us, the common folks, and not in the Madbaha as we normally expect to find it. It is going to be in the middle of the church till Good Friday (representing the Public Ministry of Jesus) when it will be taken to Calvary and then buried. On Easter, Jesus will rise from the dead and then the cross will be placed in the Madbaha for another 40 days till the Feast of Ascension. Between the Easter and Ascension, Jesus only revealed to selected people (no public ministry as earlier), so the veiled cross will be seen only in the Madbaha during this time.
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