Malankara World Journal
Malankara World Journal

Volume 2 No. 64 March 18, 2012
Special Edition: Great Lent Week 5

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Great Lent

Parce, Domine, parce populo tuo;  ne in aeternum irascaris nobis

"Spare your people Lord: Be not angry Lord with your people forever."

Table of Contents
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1. Inspiration for This Week

A reflection on Hosea 6:1-6 and a prayer based on Psalm 51.

2. My Thoughts on Lent by Dr. Susan Jacob, MD

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. ...

3. Lenten Reflections (Week 5)

4. Daily Meditations and Bible Reading

5. Mid Lent and Erection of Golgotha

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. ...

6. Holy Lent Supplement in Malankara World

7. About Malankara World

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;
as certain as the dawn is his coming,
and his judgment shines forth like the light of day!
He will come to us like the rain,
like spring rain that waters the earth."

What can I do with you, Ephraim?
What can I do with you, Judah?
Your piety is like a morning cloud,
like the dew that early passes away.

For this reason I smote them through the prophets,
I slew them by the words of my mouth;
For it is love that I desire, not sacrifice,
and knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.
Hosea 6:1-6

Prayer (Based on Psalm 51: 3-4, 18-19 and Hosea 6:1-6)

It is mercy I desire, and not sacrifice.

Have mercy on me, O God, in your goodness;
in the greatness of your compassion wipe out my offense.
Thoroughly wash me from my guilt
and of my sin cleanse me.

It is mercy I desire, and not sacrifice.

For you are not pleased with sacrifices;
should I offer a burnt offering, you would not accept it.
My sacrifice, O God, is a contrite spirit;
a heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.

It is mercy I desire, and not sacrifice.

Be bountiful, O LORD, to Zion in your kindness
by rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem;
Then shall you be pleased with due sacrifices,
burnt offerings and whole burnt offering.

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?

My Thoughts on Lent

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.
Hebrews 4:14 to 16

Read the following passage about fasting: Isaiah 58

True Fasting

1 "Shout it aloud, do not hold back.
Raise your voice like a trumpet.
Declare to my people their rebellion
and to the descendants of Jacob their sins.

2 For day after day they seek me out;
they seem eager to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that does what is right
and has not forsaken the commands of its God.
They ask me for just decisions
and seem eager for God to come near them.

3 'Why have we fasted,' they say,
'and you have not seen it?
Why have we humbled ourselves,
and you have not noticed?'
"Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please
and exploit all your workers.

4 Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife,
and in striking each other with wicked fists.
You cannot fast as you do today
and expect your voice to be heard on high.

5 Is this the kind of fast I have chosen,
only a day for people to humble themselves?
Is it only for bowing one's head like a reed
and for lying in sackcloth and ashes?
Is that what you call a fast,
a day acceptable to the Lord?

6 "Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?

7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter-
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?

8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.

9 Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
"If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
with the pointing finger and malicious talk,

10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.

11 The Lord will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail.

12 Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins
and will raise up the age-old foundations;
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,
Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.

13 "If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath
and from doing as you please on my holy day,
if you call the Sabbath a delight
and the Lord's holy day honorable,
and if you honor it by not going your own way
and not doing as you please or speaking idle words,

14 then you will find your joy in the Lord,
and I will cause you to ride in triumph on the heights of the land
and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob."
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

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.

Lenten Reflections (Week 5)
Daily Meditations and Bible Reading:
Mid Lent and Erection of Golgotha

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.

Golgotha - from Mid Lent to Good Friday

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.

Holy Lent Supplement in Malankara World
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