St.Gregorios Indian Orthodox Church,UK
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GREAT  LENT  MESSAGES  2007

First Monday, Great Lent  

Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you? I Corinthians 3: 16

We have this privileged entity of becoming the ‘Temple of God’. If we have a visitor or a guest coming to our home we would be taking a lot of effort in cleaning, tidying up and to put things in its position. But here we have a permanent dweller in our inner being though quite often the presence is neglected by us. Lent is a time to tidy up ourselves as His dwelling place. It would be only a minimal work if we do the following as ‘Temple of God’-

-        Purify this Temple

-        Keep the sanctity of the Temple

-        Keep the Temple functioning

Prayer:

Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. Amen (From Psalm 51) 

First Tuesday, Great Lent

 I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Romans 12: 1

 Yesterday we stopped at the point: As ‘temple of God’ it is our duty to keep this temple functioning.

In order to keep this temple functioning one has to have sacrifices in it. But we ourselves are the sacrificial elements in this temple. We may require sacrificing our ‘Self’ for the benefit and upkeep of our family and for the world. Our life, in many respects, is an outcome of the ‘sacrifice’ of many others including our parents and the people who loved us. Let us tune and set our life, copying the sacrificial love of our Lord.

Prayer: O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise. You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. (from Psalm 51). God, help us to offer ourselves as living sacrifices to you. Amen.

 First Wednesday, Great Lent

 Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Romans 12: 13

 We were thinking on the need of ‘sanctity’ and ‘holiness’. But often we perceive this as something highly personal. Being the ‘temple of God’ is not a simple ‘self oriented spirituality’ but our spiritual endeavors have its own natural corporate implications in it. ‘Sharing’ our goodness in need and ‘hospitality’ are two main foundational aspects in Christian spirituality. In the daily offices of prayers of the Lenten season this is a recurring theme. We often confine our hospitality to our familiar premises and defined circle and we may act strangely to all others. But it is interesting to note that in the New Testament original language the term used for ‘hospitality’ (including in Romans 12: 13) is Philoxenia which is a compound word- philos (friend) + xenia (foreigner/ stranger). May this season bring in us all the spirit of ‘sharing’ and ‘hospitality’.

Prayer: Make, O Lord, our hearts habitations of tranquility, and our minds havens of peace. Implant in our souls the seeds of true love for You and for one another. Impress in us Your love with unity, concord and worship so that, with modesty we may give peace to one another and receive it with sincerity. Amen (prayer from the Subukhono liturgy) 

 First Thursday, Great Lent

 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Romans 12: 10

 To continue with the idea of ‘hospitality’ as a corporate aspect in the ‘Temple’ analogy today let us think on the need of fraternal love. It is important to be ‘devoted’ one another in love. Our consideration to others could be analysed and understood in simple terms. Somebody tells us, “please keep me in your prayers” and we replies emphatically, “of course, I will”. Now, are we really committed to this by regular exercise? Is his or her problem becomes a central point in our plea to God in the same manner as we keep our issues before God? We cannot demean the presence of God in us with our deliberate blindness to others. May this Lent equip us to exercise our devotion to God and others.

Prayer:

O Father and Lord of those who seek peace, make us worthy, while filled with meekness and hope, and adorned with faith and spiritual love for You and for each other, that we embrace one another in spirit and in the excellence of love which is the fulfillment of Your law. Amen (Prayer of St. Cyril of Alexandria. AD 444).

First Friday, Great Lent

 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction and faithful in prayer. Romans 12: 12

 Gregory of Nyssa, a fourth century Church Father in one of his exhortations says, “Hope and patience are to be the staffs to lean upon, whenever we are weary with the trials of the world”. The modern world view but often consider these qualities as weaknesses in life. But the same father in the very same exhortation says, “Courage and confidence are to be weapons in our hands to baffle any sudden surprise and attack of the wicked who advance.” (cf. On Virginity, chapter 18)

 Technological assistance and ultra modern facilities are inevitable in our life. But are they improving our strength in patience and hope or most of the time making us more impatient? Life styles should bring qualities to life otherwise we are serving a power which is wrongly understood as ‘facility’. Observation of Lent should help us to have a self- scrutiny to know our strength in the qualities mentioned in the verse in question.

Prayer: God, help us to be joyful in hope and patient in our afflictions and troubles. Kindly help us to look into ourselves to know our follies and to gather good qualities. Amen 

 First Saturday, Great Lent

 Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you? I Corinthians 3: 16

 Towards the end of the first week, we are coming back to the same verse with which we started to sum up the idea. We have this dignified role of hosting God permanently. It is our responsibility to keep this temple properly functioning. We ourselves are the sacrificial elements in this temple and so we have to exercise sacrificial love. When we are functioning as a temple nothing is self oriented but act of sharing and fraternal love are becoming inevitably part of life. We have to be ‘joyful in hope and patient in afflictions and troubles’. As a temple unavoidably we have to be ‘faithful in our prayer’.

 Just to add to these points: The consecration of this temple has been ritualistically performed through our baptism. May this ‘Great Lent’ be a time of rededication of this temple.

 Prayer: God our Lord, who is the true and inexpressible light, who in His glorious providence has separated and sanctified His spiritual flock by the sacrament of baptism,  show us the way to walk in the light of Your commandments that we may be worthy to become the children of light for you are the true light. Amen (Prayer from the liturgy of ‘Baptism’. 

 Second Sunday, Great Lent

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:

Philippians 2: 5

 But how can a person simply be so imperative (for Paul uses the ‘imperative case’ –giving a command- in the original language) to say ‘your attitude should be’? We could deduce mainly two reasons. Firstly, Paul was undoubtedly exhorting them to imitate a person who in every sense is authentic. Secondly he considered his Church in Philippians as his “crown and joy” (Philippians 4: 1) and he had this freedom to admonish them.

For us the first point is an exercise to do in Lenten times. Through our baptism and later through the life of the Church our Lord is been introduced to our life as the prime model. This season is so tuned in the Church in order for us to introspectively analyze our falling out in following Him and to place ourselves back on track.

Prayer: Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Amen ( Psalm 139: 23, 24).

Second Monday, Great Lent

 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Colossians 3: 15

 We started this week with the reminder of St. Paul ‘to have the same attitude of Christ’. For the rest of this week, we shall look into Paul’s exhortation to see six aspects where he instructs those as qualities we should bear.

Sometimes because of the pressures of our life, some other times if not most of the time, because of the ambitious life we lead, our hearts are ruled by diverse things. Our amplified ego often rules our heart. The replacement of this with ‘the peace of Christ’ is the task been given to us. If it is His peace that rules our heart then we are carriers of peace and we will send out this peace.

 Our Lord says, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid”. (John 14: 27). Let us pray that this peace would sustain in us.

Prayer: Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy;

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen. (Prayer by St. Francis of
Assisi- AD 1226)

 Second Tuesday, Great Lent

 Let the word of Christ dwell in your richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. Colossians 3: 16

  Paul has taken into granted two things about the Colossian Church: (i) As a community they teach and admonish one another and (ii) They sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. And these things are accorded that they are doing with ‘all wisdom’ and with ‘gratitude’ respectively. Having considered these already existing practices Paul wishes the main thing that as they do these things, “Let the word of God” dwell in them richly.

In a meaningful community/ family the members would

i)                  Teach and admonish one another with all wisdom

ii)               Worship God with grateful heart

And the inspiration is the word of Christ dwells in us.

Let all our dealings be inspired by the indwelling presence of Christ and nothing would be a failure.

 Prayer: Grant unto me, O Lord, that with peace of mind I may face all that this new day is to bring. Grant unto me to dedicate myself completely to Thy Holy Will. For every hour of this day, instruct and support me in all things. Whatsoever tidings I may receive during the day, do Thou teach me to accept tranquilly, in the firm conviction that all eventualities fulfill Thy Holy Will. Govern Thou my thoughts and feelings in all I do and say. When things unforeseen occur, let me not forget that all cometh down from Thee. Teach me to behave sincerely and rationally toward every member of my family, that I may bring confusion and sorrow to none. Bestow upon me, my Lord, strength to endure the fatigue of the day, and to bear my part in all its passing events. Guide Thou my will and teach me to pray, to believe, to hope, to suffer, to forgive, and to love. Amen (Prayers of the Optina Elders: They are a 19th Century Monastic Community in Russia)

 Second Wednesday, Great Lent

 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3: 17

 In all the three consecutive verses we discussed this week, repeatedly Paul is mentioning the need of gratefulness in one or other way. For all our achievements, though we may tend to personalize it, we are indebted to many others and to God. Do they have any place in our heart or are they in oblivion?

 This verse is particularly exhorting to do everything, ‘in the name of our Lord’. If we consider this as a ‘tag’ on us Christianity would be slavery for us. On the contrary if we consider this as a responsible action from us to a loving parent this would be a matter of happiness for us. We are a pledged community performing everything in His name. We start all our prayers, “in the name of” Trinity. Let us reaffirm ourselves that we live and die in Him.

 Prayer: My Lord and my God, King of the ages and author of all things, I thank you for all the good things which you have granted me and for the communion of your holy and life-creating mysteries. O Good One, lover of humankind, keep me under your shelter and in the shadow of your wings, and grant me worthily to partake of your Holy Things with a clean conscience until my last breath, unto forgiveness of sins and unto life eternal. For you art the Bread of life, the Fountain of holiness, the Giver of good things, and unto you do we send up glory, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen. (Prayer by St. Basil of Caesarea, 4th Century)

 Second Thursday, Great Lent

 Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Colossians 3: 12

 We are always particular about our clothing. Even sometimes we would take extraordinary efforts to dress ourselves up. Here the instruction is to clothe ourselves with spiritual qualities. I don't think Paul picked this variety of clothing randomly but it is a designed fashion. 'Compassion' is always action oriented and it would result in 'kind' actions. When we do something we may feel that we are doing something great and even sometimes we may tend to say it. But then we are bound to wear 'humility'. Lot of confrontations will be there but there we have to show our 'gentleness'. Inevitable tribulations may be part of this life and we have to be 'patient'.

 On the Cross of humiliation, facing death our Lord laid stripped naked but he was very well clothed with these wonderful garments. No trials should strip our credible clothing for we are following Him.

 

Prayer: Jesus Christ our God, Who of Your own will and that of Your Father and of Your Holy Spirit, were sacrificed on our behalf and gave us Your Holy Body to eat and Your Atoning Blood to drink, confirm us in Your love, fill us with Your awe, establish in us Your faith, adorn us with blameless manners and forgive our sins and those of our departed so that we may continually glorify You and God Your Father and Your Holy Spirit, now, always and forever. Amen. (Prayer from the Anaphora of St. John Chrysostom, 5th Century)

 Second Friday, Great Lent

 Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Colossians 3: 14

 All the religions advocate forgiveness. (Islam, one of the most misinterpreted and misunderstood religion presents Allah, God Almighty as ‘Al- Ghafoor’ means the ‘most forgiving’. Moreover, equally the Islamic religious doctrine advocates human forgiveness. In al-Shura 42: 37, a believer is described as one who avoid major sins and one who forgive when he is angry.)   Intolerances and condemnation are outside the scope of religion and so if we practice any of those we are not practicing religion but following something else. Lent is an exercise to achieve greatest patience and forgiveness. Here in this passage Paul demands an unconditional forgiveness. And, no doubt, that would be the greatest ‘healing’ experience we could experience in our life.

 Prayer: Lord, forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. Amen

 Second Saturday, Great Lent

 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Colossians 3: 14

 Towards the end of the second week in Lent before we sum up the thoughts let us look into the final point in ‘having the same attitude as Christ Jesus’. Above everything Paul instructs us to ‘put on’ love and he further explains the advantage of it as this would bind all the qualities together in ‘perfect unity’. If we have all the virtues and if we lack love everything is in vain. (Cf. I Corinthians 13). But this act of ‘putting on’ requires an effort in it. It is not as simple as we may perceive. Is it possible for us to make our heart as a real resource of love to everyone in all the situations? Yet the genuine demand sustains. Observation of Lent should help us and equip us in journeying far into this.  

To summarize: The peace of Christ should rule our heart; His word should dwell in us; whatever we do we should do in His name (or we should not do anything against His will); we should clothe ourselves in compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience and in unconditional forgiveness. Above all these virtues we should put on the binding love and thereby committing ourselves to be compatible to His attitude.  

 Prayer: Teach me, O LORD, to follow your decrees; then I will keep them to the end. Give me understanding, and I will keep your law and obey it with all my heart. Direct me in the path of your commands, for there I find delight. Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain. Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word. Fulfill your promise to your servant, so that you may be feared. Take away the disgrace I dread, for your laws are good. How I long for your precepts! Preserve my life in your righteousness. Amen (Psalm 119: 33- 40)

 Third Monday, Great Lent

 "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."

John 8: 12

 

'Light' is a favourite theme in John's Gospel. In the prologue of his gospel referring to Jesus Christ he testimonies that "the true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world". (1:9).

 

Obviously there will be experiences of darkness in our life. These may be the result of our own follies or of others or of natural reasons. But the words of Jesus Christ affirm the fact that if we 'follow Him', we 'will never walk in darkness'. The word translated as 'walk' in the original is peripateo, which is more than mere walking. It is 'to make one's way' and it obviously refers to the 'way of life'. In Him we will make our life in light.

Prayer: Christ, the true Light, You enlighten and sanctify Your creation. Shine in us that we may see Your radiance. Help us to live according to Your commandments, through the prayers of Your all-pure Mother and all Your Saints. Amen. (An Ancient Orthodox morning prayers of unknown origin)

Third Tuesday, Great Lent

Therefore Jesus said again, "I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. (John 10: 7) I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. (John 10: 9)

 

This is another impersonal imagery that Jesus has used to present Himself. He is been presented as the entrance to salvation. In the original language the word used is Thura, which implies as an 'open door' as well. In Orthodox Iconography windows and doors play a significant role of imagery. Windows represent the unfailing protective gaze of God and doors represent the ever- welcoming expectation of God for our return. (Cf. the Icon of Abraham's hospitality by Andrei Rublev, 13 Cent. AD. Also Cf. the parable of the 'prodigal son'. Luke 15: 20 says on the return of his lost son - "But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him"). If we are lost in our life, no matter how much we have strayed away, there is a loving Father who waits patiently for our return with open doors. The re-entrance is assured through Jesus Christ.

 

Prayers: Christ our God, who is worshipped and glorified at all times and in every hour in heaven and on earth; who is the door to salvation; who is most patient, loving and kind; who loves the just and shows mercy to sinners; who calls all to salvation through the promise of the blessings to come; Lord, at this time receive our prayer and direct our lives according to Your will. Bless our souls and bodies. Correct our thoughts and purify our minds. Protect us from all evil and distress. Surround us with Your holy angels, that guided and guarded by them, we may attain the unity of the faith and enter the doors of Your salvation to the knowledge of Your unapproachable glory, for You are blessed forever and ever. Amen. (From Anonymous Fathers of the Orthodox Church)

Third Wednesday, Great Lent

"I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep." John 10: 11

 

'Sheep and shepherd' imagery is quite a familiar one in the Semitic background. The same metaphor is vividly and clearly used even in the Old Testament time. (Cf. Psalm 23: 1 and Isaiah 40: 11- He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young).

 

The same metaphor became so common in the secular usages and came to a point that it could be even used for those involved in the formation of CIA. (Reference to Robert De Niro's recent release 'Good Shepherd'). Obviously the common usage of this metaphor resulted in a reductionism.

 

The idea of 'sacrifice' is quite visible and clear. But, if we look deeper into the metaphoric set up, we could see the passionate and affectionate relationship involved in this. Living a Christian life inevitably involves this bond.

 Prayer:

 

O Jesus, Good Shepherd of Thy sheep, let me not fall into disobedience, nor leave me to the will of evil, for the seeds of corruption are in me. O Lord God adorable, O Holy King Jesus, guard me with the unfading light, Thy Holy Spirit, through Whom Thou didst sanctify Thy disciples. Grant even to me, Thy unworthy servant, O Lord, Thy salvation. Enlighten my mind with the light of the understanding of Thy Gospel; my soul with love of Thy Cross; my heart with the purity of Thy word; my body with Thy passionless passion; preserve my thought in Thy humility, and raise me at the time proper for Thy glorification. For Thou art most glorified with Thy Father, Who is without beginning, and Thy Most Holy Spirit, unto the ages. Amen. (From Byzantine Orthodox Evening Prayers)

Third Thursday, Great Lent

I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies. John 11: 25

 

The liturgy of the feast of resurrection affirms the fact that resurrection is the victory over death, corruptibility and evil. St. Paul in his doctrinal explanation to Resurrection also points out this fact. (1 Corinthians 15). Through our baptism we participate in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ (Ref. Romans 6: 3-4). Precisely our Christian vocation essentially refers to the fact that we are participants in His 'death and resurrection'. Here the affirmative statement in John states that, He Himself is 'the resurrection and the life'. In other words we don't have life or resurrection apart from Him. We have victory over evil through Jesus Christ.

 

The simple word Zoe (life) in New Testament Greek (The same word is used in John 11: 25) implies a lot of meaning. In simpler terms it is 'state of one who is possessed of vitality'. But in detail, it is the (i) absolute fullness of life, (ii) life which is real and genuine, (iii) active and vigorous, (iv) essential and ethical and so on. These amounts of meaning are been lost in translation. Christian life is life in Christ who is 'the life and resurrection' and the pattern of life asks us to win over all evil, to experience the fullness of life which is active, vigorous and ethical. May the observation of lent help us to achieve this greater goal.

 

Prayer:

I exalt You, O my Lord, the King, the Only-begotten Son and the Word of the heavenly Father, Who, by Your nature, are immortal. You accepted, by Your grace, and came down for the life and resurrection of humankind, and did become incarnate of the holy, glorious and pure Virgin, Mother of God, Mary. Who without change did become a man and was crucified for us. O Christ our God, Who by Your death trampled our death and destroyed it. You Who are One of the Holy Trinity, and are worshiped and glorified in unity with Your Father and Your Holy Spirit, have compassion on us all. Amen (An ancient version of the Antiphon of St. Severius, which we sing at the beginning of H. Qurbana- Nin mathavu visudhanmaar…) 

Third Friday, Great Lent

 

"I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me". John 14: 6

 

 'The Way' was a synonym for the Church in the early times.  (Ref. Acts 19: 20, 23, 22: 4, 24: 14, 22). (In some of the English translations in the above referred verses the 'W' for way is in block letter. Also it is interesting to note that, following this idea, one of the ancient ways of referring to the Church in our tradition was Margam (way) from where the name Margam kali deduced). The Church was considered as a group of people who accepted this new 'Way' of life and for people who came into this, the 'Way' was Jesus Christ.

 

This verse is part of Jesus' farewell exhortation to His disciples and the testimony presents Him as 'the way, truth and life'. We did discuss the word Zoe- 'Life', yesterday.

 

When we are driving if we take a small angular deviation to drive into another path, initially the distance from the original way will be small, but as we move along the difference become wider and wider and we will end up in an entirely different destination. In Christian life as simple compromises we would tend to make small deviations in the way; but it may end up in a different destination. Lent is an exercise to give us all the inner strength to continue in 'the way and the truth', that is Jesus Christ.

Prayer: Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Amen (Psalm 139: 23, 24)

Third Saturday, Great Lent

 

"I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful". John 15: 1,2

 

 

John 15 describes the beautiful analogy of vine, branches and gardener in order to explain the true life in Christ. We are essentially one in Christ because we are the branches of the 'one true vine'. If the branches are removed from the trunk it will become a lifeless entity. At the same time to make the growth more sporadic and vigorous we may require to undergo pruning, shaping and chopping.   We may ask to God and ourselves, "why, it is me?" but sometimes it would be quite inevitable that we have to undergo shaping and this may not be for us alone, but for the goodness of others as well. In the Greek original the word used for "prunes" has its equal sense as 'cleansing' ( Kathairo). This season of prayer is to submit ourselves for God's pruning.

 

May Christ be our 'bread of life', the light to our path, the shepherd who shows us the way, the door which we pass onto 'eternity' resurrecting above all trivial premises. Let us bear good fruits in Him.

Prayer: May our hunger be ever satisfied with Your richness and our thirst be quenched with the sweetness of Your fountain. May we always praise You with the fruits of our lips, sing joyful songs with our tongues and glorify You in true faith. May we, together with our faithful departed, rejoice in You as You are the true vine to Your Father and to Your Holy Spirit, now, always and forever. Amen (from an ancient Syriac Sedro of unknown origin)

Fourth Sunday, Great Lent

 

Turn, O LORD, and deliver me; save me because of your unfailing love. Psalm 6: 4

 

(The West Syrian Liturgical Tradition- the tradition which our church follows- has seven penitent Psalms as part of the daily offices of prayers. For this week's 'Lenten reflection' I have selected one verse from each psalm).

 

'Deliverance' is one of the main themes in the Prayers of Lent in our Church. We must be wondering, from what I have to be delivered when I have all the freedom. In fact knowingly or unknowingly in our practical life we are under the subjugation of several things. This may be our prejudiced approaches to the people around, may be our inability to step down from our OWN opinions, may be the difficulty to come out from some of the habits which we would really like to avoid and so on. Let us pray to God that we could locate the problems from which we need deliverance and let us exercise ourselves to get deliverance.

Prayer:

Through Your grace and Your love toward humankind, Lord visit us with Your mercy and compassion and deliver us from all guile and envy; grant us Your Holy Spirit, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of knowledge and mightiness, the Spirit of chastity and holiness, the Spirit of piety and good will, so that, when we become cleansed by the sprinkles of Your purifying hyssop, we may be worthy to stand before You with a pure heart and live our life according to Your will. Amen (Prayer from the Anaphora of St. Jacob of Serug – 521 AD)

Fourth Sunday, Great Lent  

Turn, O LORD, and deliver me; save me because of your unfailing love. Psalm 6: 4 (The West Syrian Liturgical Tradition- the tradition which our church follows- has seven penitent Psalms as part of the daily offices of prayers. For this week's 'Lenten reflection' I have selected one verse from each psalm).

'Deliverance' is one of the main themes in the Prayers of Lent in our Church. We must be wondering, from what I have to be delivered when I have all the freedom. In fact knowingly or unknowingly in our practical life we are under the subjugation of several things. This may be our prejudiced approaches to the people around, may be our inability to step down from our OWN opinions, may be the difficulty to come out from some of the habits which we would really like to avoid and so on. Let us pray to God that we could locate the problems from which we need deliverance and let us exercise ourselves to get deliverance.

 Prayer: Through Your grace and Your love toward humankind, Lord visit us with Your mercy and compassion and deliver us from all guile and envy; grant us Your Holy Spirit, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of knowledge and mightiness, the Spirit of chastity and holiness, the Spirit of piety and good will, so that, when we become cleansed by the sprinkles of Your purifying hyssop, we may be worthy to stand before You with a pure heart and live our life according to Your will. Amen (Prayer from the Anaphora of St. Jacob of Serug – 521 AD)

Fourth Monday, Great Lent

Therefore let everyone who is godly pray to you while you may be found; surely when the mighty waters rise, they will not reach him. You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance. Psalm 32: 6,7 This verse doesn't imply that at some point God or God's mercy wouldn't work; it is steadfast as ever. On the contrary in our life we may have difficulties where we couldn't maintain the same clarity of mind to get to know God. And so the psalmist in his praise to God says that 'let everyone pray' to Him when He may found. (Cf. Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come. Ecclesiastes 12:1). 'Prayer' in itself is a communion with God and it is not meant only for the times of troubles and perils but it should be a regular exercise.

Sometimes stormy experiences are quite inevitable; but our life is prayerfully built on a rock and the rock is Christ. The waters may even rise up to a level we couldn't hold further but the assurance of hope is that it won't reach us. Prophet Isaiah says: "So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand". (Isaiah 40:10)

 Prayer: God the heavenly Father, make us prudent in our undertakings, courageous in dangers, patient in afflictions, and humble in prosperity. Grant that we may be ever attentive at our prayers, temperate at our meals, diligent in our employments and constant in our resolutions. Amen. (One of the modern Catholic prayers)

 Fourth Tuesday, Great Lent

My friends and companions avoid me because of my wounds; my neighbors stay far away. Psalm 38: 11

We may feel that this is quite a negative verse to ponder on, but Church Fathers consider this verse as part of Messianic prophecy where it indicates the rejection experienced by our Lord during His trial and crucifixion. At times we may have experiences of rejection in our life and this might appear from those quarters of life and people where we would never even expect. The spirit of survival in us should have the courage to move on but with the exemplary life of our Lord before us. He was tortured and humiliated by his own kin. He was stripped naked and mocked in front of his near ones and everyone stayed away. But His endurance and gentleness never gave way to violent responses or condemnation. When we have trying times in our life, when we lack support from the expected surroundings let us continue to maintain the same spirit of endurance and patience; which are basics to Christian faith.

Prayers:   Grant us, O Lord God, the knowledge of Your divine words and fill us with the understanding of Your Holy Gospel, the richness of Your divine gifts and the endowments of Your Holy Spirit. And grant us that, with joy, we may keep Your commandments, perform and fulfill Your will and become worthy of Your blessings and mercies from You, our Lord and our God, now and forever. Amen (The inaudible or silent prayer for the celebrants before they read the Gospel).


Fourth Wednesday, Great Lent

 Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. Psalm 51: 12

 Practically how much disastrous it will be if we loose our passport at the verge of a journey? Everything will turn out into a terrible mess. Passport is something we acquire in our life; but we don't bother or even don't think of something which we are at loss almost in a daily basis. This is not anything we acquired in our life but it was implanted by the creator in the inner self of us- the 'joy of salvation'.  

The ultimate secret of happiness is sowed within us. (Luke 17:21, where Jesus says, "The kingdom of God is within you"). We are created as essentially good with all the potential to grow in perfection. In all the pressurized situation of our life but we neglect this possibility of growing in happiness. There lies the significance of the above prayer- asking God for a restoration.

Prayer: Bestow on us the joy of salvation and make us worthy of Your help. Strengthen us with Your power and arm us with Your might for You are merciful, and to You we raise glory and praise and to Your Only-begotten Son and to Your Holy Spirit. Amen. (From the Anaphora St. James AD 61)

 Fourth Thursday, Great Lent

But you remain the same, and your years will never end. Psalm 102: 27

 It will be quite hurting for us if somebody so close to us behaves quite strangely. But this gives us the notion that those things which are believed by us as immutable are not always so. In order to overcome such disappointments we have 'Christian hope' as our guiding light. The foundation for this hope is the steadfastness of God's love. It is perfect, immutable and so 'remains the same'.

 Since that we have compared the mutable love of our fellow friends with the immutable love of God it doesn't authorize us to judge them or to keep us aloof from them. But a person who relies on the steadfast love of God would reflect the same love to all.

 Prayer: O Heavenly King, Comforter, Spirit of Truth, Who remains the same always, Who art everywhere present and fillest all things, Treasury of good things and Giver of life: Come and dwell in us, and cleanse us of all impurity, and save our souls. Amen (From the Eastern Orthodox Compline).

Fourth Friday, Great Lent

May those who pass by not say, "The blessing of the LORD be upon you; we bless you in the name of the LORD." 129: 8

 

Psalm 129 is a 'national lament' of Israel. It may be a bit confusing for us as we may think why a word of blessing in quote is given as something should not be uttered (referring to "not say" in the verse). This should be understood in the context of this Psalm. The "not say" is referring to 'other nations'- those who pass by, and not Israel; hence it is understood that 'let Israel say' this but not the aliens. Verses with these natures are categorized as 'imprecatory' which means, out of the zealous attitude of the author he/she accurse those who don't worship the true God (which is not anything admissible in the New Testament piety).

 

As it is mentioned above the verse could be reread as "let the Israel say, 'The blessing of the Lord be upon you; we bless you in the name of the Lord'". 'Blessing the whole creation is essentially part of our spirituality. A word of blessing would only come from a peaceful and pious heart. This operation is a process which we could experiment. It is quite natural that we may become irritable to others and even develop hatred. The Christian remedy is prayer and forgiveness but that is not a ceasing point, we should continue to pray for them so that we will come to a point that peacefully we will be able to bless them. Prayer, forgiveness, peaceful heart and blessing are positively intertwined. May the observation of this Great Lent bring us a heart capable of blessing all.

 

Prayer: O Mighty Lord God, Who are the true love, the invincible tranquility and the hope that does not disappoint; O Lord God, grant us, love, pleasantness, tranquility and continual peace. Make us all worthy that, with purity of heart and holiness of soul, we may give peace to one another. To You we offer praise and thanksgiving and to Your Only-begotten Son and to Your Holy Spirit, now, always and forever. Amen (From the 'Anaphora of St. John the Evangelist'- AD 90)

 

Fourth Saturday, Great Lent

For the LORD takes delight in his people; he crowns the humble with salvation. Psalm 149: 4

 

We started the week with the theme of 'deliverance' and through this verse we are revisiting it. Then we took a prayer of deliverance now an assurance of the 'crown of salvation'. Salvation is the ultimate liberation one could achieve. There is no more specks of evil, no traces of darkness and no haunting of the past hitches. The possibility of this greater achievement has already sowed in us.

 

As an eligibility of it the Psalmist says that we have to be 'humble'. Humbleness should not be a deliberate act but it should be a genuine overflow from a heart full of goodness. It is not anything showed with a purpose but it should be a gesture out of our love. In trying times and in abundance the reflection of humbleness is stable and constant.

Prayer:

O Lord and Master of my life take from me the spirit of sloth
faint-heartedness, lust of power and idle talk.

But give rather the spirit of chastity,humility, patience,
and love to thy servant.

Yea, O Lord and King grant me to see my own errors
and not to judge my brother; for Thou art blessed unto the ages of ages.

Amen.

(Lenten Prayer of St. Ephrem, 4th Century AD)

Fifth Sunday, Great Lent

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. I Corinthians 1: 18

 In the fifth week of the Great Lent let us look into the theme of 'Cross'.

For those who came into the experience of salvation the message of Cross is the power of God. Cross was an instrument of punishment in the ancient world. (It was not a Hebraic way of giving the capital punishment; but it was a Roman way of punishing the thieves and malefactors. In the period of Jesus, Palestine was a Roman territory). But in the life of the Christian Church this instrument of condemnation became a symbol of victory and glory. This conceptual change is a revolutionary one. In human terms 'bearing of His cross' will be an act of failure and foolishness; but for a Christian it will regulate even his/her ethical principles.

 At times we may even require undergoing the experience of 'failures' for the growth and sustenance of the society we serve. The message of Cross but gives us the strength and courage to dedicate ourselves for that.

Prayer: God, Maker of all creation, accept these prayers of appreciation and petition from us sinners, and deliver us from any fatal fall into darkness and from all enemies, visible or invisible. Lord, who loves everyone, by Your great mercy, You have sent Your only son, our Lord, Jesus Christ, for the salvation of all, and by Your Holy Cross, have cancelled the debt of our sins and defeated the powers of darkness. Penetrate our bodies with Your power and wrap our hearts with love in You, that we might always gaze upon You and be guided by Your eternal light. We give unending praise and thanks to You, eternal Father, to Your only Son and to Your all-holy, good and life-giving Spirit, now and forever and ever. Amen. (From Eastern Orthodox Noon Prayers)

Fifth Monday, Great Lent

May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. Galatians 6: 14

  We will always have something in our life to be proud of. We consider our education, academic qualifications, family heritage, talents of our children and many more things in the similar line as matters to 'blow our horn'. Here the Apostle is but presenting a totally different thing on which we should be confident on- that is the 'cross of our Lord'. Further to this he explains that through the cross he has been crucified to the world and vice versa. The Apostle testimonies that he is not confirmed to the world but he looks forward to the greater glory ahead. If we move on by considering and boasting on all the transitory things, have we ever thought to what extent it would contribute to our final goal?  

Prayer: Our Lord Jesus Christ, under the wings of Your Cross protect us; out of the pitfall and the gulf of afflictions raise us; help us to keep aloof from all vain glories and unworthy boastings; from defilement and blasphemy save us. Our Lord Jesus Christ, with Your goodness and Your blessings satisfy us; from Your treasure which is full of mercy and compassion enrich us. Amen (from an ancient Syriac Sedro)  

Fifth Tuesday, Great Lent  

And in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. Ephesians 2: 16

 Here Paul highlights the integrity we should experience in the Body of Christ. The phrase 'Both of them' is referring to the circumcised and the uncircumcised in the New Testament Church. Precisely Paul exhorts the reconciliatory role of cross. There shouldn't be any hostility in those who follow the path of cross. In the New Testament community the circumcised Jewish Christians placed themselves above the rest of the Christians. Paul considers this as an evil and apparently he presents the greatest act of breaching the walls of hostility in cross as a prime model to nullify their arrogance. It would be worth assessing ourselves to know whether in any respect our consciousness of 'meritorious lineage of heritage' is affecting the integrity of our community. As followers of Christ we are bound to be proponents of reconciliation.

Prayers: Lord Jesus Christ, Clothe us with the robe of love and harmony. Make peace, reconciliation and tranquility reign among us, deliver us from the afflictions and rods of wrath and guard us by Your Holy Cross. Amen (from an ancient Syriac Sedro)


Fifth Wednesday, Great Lent  

And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross! Philippians 2: 8

 This is the very last verse of the so-called 'kenotic passage'.  Death on a Cross was a great humiliation one could face and that is why it is said, "even death on a cross!" He was humble enough to be "obedient to death". According to the fourth century Theologian St. Gregory of Nyssa, "Christ was obedient unto death which healed the disobedience resulting from our sins, for he destroyed death, the result of our disobedience, by his resurrection from the dead". Along with all the goodness one could gather with the growth and development of civilization there came into existence the problems and perils of human greed and ambition. Apparently, individually and collectively we began to gather unnecessary wealth and resources of nature and also we lost our transparency. We had all the goodness at the origin. Christ's death in Cross was a silent yielding to death (obedient unto death) in order that from our fallen nature we would be reinstated to the original.

The immortality we achieve is not anything gained for us without pain or agony. So we have this responsibility to remind ourselves about the price God has paid for us- humiliated for no end and silenced to the power of death.

Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, do not close the door of Your mercy on our faces. Lord, we confess that we are sinners, have mercy upon us. O Lord, Your love made you descend from Your place to us that by Your death, our death was abolished; have mercy on us. Amen (from Ancient Syriac Evening Prayers).

Fifth Thursday, Great Lent

 

For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Philippians 3: 18

 

There were variant teachings in the Church in Philippia and there was division. Paul urges the people whole-heartedly in tears not to follow them, but to Christ. Here by 'enemies of Cross' he refers to those who came with diverse teaching which abuse the Christian faith and doctrines. It is a question that should be posed before us- are we at any point of life becoming a stumbling block to the faith of the community? We are the followers of the Cross of Christ. Sometimes our interventions or even our pattern of life could block the clear view of His Cross. May this Great Lent help us to look into ourselves to find any speck of contamination and may this season of continuous prayers help us to wipe out all such things from our life.

Prayer: By Your Cross O Lord, be unto us, for the alienation of sinful passions and for intimacy with the works of righteousness that we may offer You praise and thanksgiving and to Your Only begotten Son and to Your Holy Spirit, now, always and forever. Amen (From the Anaphora of St. Xystus, AD 251)

Fifth Friday, Great Lent  

Having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. Colossians 2: 14

  Sometimes we will be over enthusiastic about the written codes and regulations forgetting the humanitarian needs and concerns. Now a days (even in olden days also) this become a cancer- in the life of the Church, in the functioning of different religions and even in the running of the governments. Laws are made to help the community and individual to have a safe and secured life provided it should be interpreted in the right way by the righteous people. Our methodology for interpreting the regulations should be the love of our Lord which was shown in the cross because it is clearly stated that, 'he took it away, nailing it to the cross'. 

Prayer:  Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path. I have taken an oath and confirmed it, that I will follow your righteous laws. (From Psalm 119).

Deliver us, O Lord God, from all evils, from all kinds of unlawfulness and wrong interpretations of your statutes. Forgive our sins and our transgressions and be absolvent to us and to all those who trespassed against us in whatever manner. Drive away from us, O Lord, all foul thoughts and enlighten our souls and sanctify our bodies that we may offer You praise and thanksgiving and to Your Only-begotten Son and to Your Holy Spirit, now, always and forever. Amen (From the Anaphora of Mar Dionysius Jacob Bar Salibi- AD 1171)

Fifth Sunday, Great Lent

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. I Corinthians 1: 18

In the fifth week of the Great Lent let us look into the theme of 'Cross'.

For those who came into the experience of salvation the message of Cross is the power of God. Cross was an instrument of punishment in the ancient world. (It was not a Hebraic way of giving the capital punishment; but it was a Roman way of punishing the thieves and malefactors. In the period of Jesus, Palestine was a Roman territory). But in the life of the Christian Church this instrument of condemnation became a symbol of victory and glory. This conceptual change is a revolutionary one. In human terms 'bearing of His cross' will be an act of failure and foolishness; but for a Christian it will regulate even his/her ethical principles.

At times we may even require undergoing the experience of 'failures' for the growth and sustenance of the society we serve. The message of Cross but gives us the strength and courage to dedicate ourselves for that.

Prayer: God, Maker of all creation, accept these prayers of appreciation and petition from us sinners, and deliver us from any fatal fall into darkness and from all enemies, visible or invisible. Lord, who loves everyone, by Your great mercy, You have sent Your only son, our Lord, Jesus Christ, for the salvation of all, and by Your Holy Cross, have cancelled the debt of our sins and defeated the powers of darkness. Penetrate our bodies with Your power and wrap our hearts with love in You, that we might always gaze upon You and be guided by Your eternal light. We give unending praise and thanks to You, eternal Father, to Your only Son and to Your all-holy, good and life-giving Spirit, now and forever and ever. Amen. (From Eastern Orthodox Noon Prayers)

Fifth Monday, Great Lent

May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. Galatians 6: 14

  We will always have something in our life to be proud of. We consider our education, academic qualifications, family heritage, talents of our children and many more things in the similar line as matters to 'blow our horn'. Here the Apostle is but presenting a totally different thing on which we should be confident on- that is the 'cross of our Lord'. Further to this he explains that through the cross he has been crucified to the world and vice versa. The Apostle testimonies that he is not confirmed to the world but he looks forward to the greater glory ahead. If we move on by considering and boasting on all the transitory things, have we ever thought to what extent it would contribute to our final goal?

 Prayer: Our Lord Jesus Christ, under the wings of Your Cross protect us; out of the pitfall and the gulf of afflictions raise us; help us to keep aloof from all vain glories and unworthy boastings; from defilement and blasphemy save us. Our Lord Jesus Christ, with Your goodness and Your blessings satisfy us; from Your treasure which is full of mercy and compassion enrich us. Amen (from an ancient Syriac Sedro)

Fifth Tuesday, Great Lent

And in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. Ephesians 2: 16

Here Paul highlights the integrity we should experience in the Body of Christ. The phrase 'Both of them' is referring to the circumcised and the uncircumcised in the New Testament Church. Precisely Paul exhorts the reconciliatory role of cross. There shouldn't be any hostility in those who follow the path of cross. In the New Testament community the circumcised Jewish Christians placed themselves above the rest of the Christians. Paul considers this as an evil and apparently he presents the greatest act of breaching the walls of hostility in cross as a prime model to nullify their arrogance. It would be worth assessing ourselves to know whether in any respect our consciousness of 'meritorious lineage of heritage' is affecting the integrity of our community. As followers of Christ we are bound to be proponents of reconciliation.  

Prayers: Lord Jesus Christ, Clothe us with the robe of love and harmony. Make peace, reconciliation and tranquility reign among us, deliver us from the afflictions and rods of wrath and guard us by Your Holy Cross. Amen (from an ancient Syriac Sedro)

Fifth Wednesday, Great Lent  

And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross! Philippians 2: 8 

This is the very last verse of the so-called 'kenotic passage'.  Death on a Cross was a great humiliation one could face and that is why it is said, "even death on a cross!" He was humble enough to be "obedient to death". According to the fourth century Theologian St. Gregory of Nyssa, "Christ was obedient unto death which healed the disobedience resulting from our sins, for he destroyed death, the result of our disobedience, by his resurrection from the dead". Along with all the goodness one could gather with the growth and development of civilization there came into existence the problems and perils of human greed and ambition. Apparently, individually and collectively we began to gather unnecessary wealth and resources of nature and also we lost our transparency. We had all the goodness at the origin. Christ's death in Cross was a silent yielding to death (obedient unto death) in order that from our fallen nature we would be reinstated to the original.

The immortality we achieve is not anything gained for us without pain or agony. So we have this responsibility to remind ourselves about the price God has paid for us- humiliated for no end and silenced to the power of death.  

Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, do not close the door of Your mercy on our faces. Lord, we confess that we are sinners, have mercy upon us. O Lord, Your love made you descend from Your place to us that by Your death, our death was abolished; have mercy on us. Amen (from Ancient Syriac Evening Prayers).

Fifth Thursday, Great Lent

 

For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Philippians 3: 18

 

There were variant teachings in the Church in Philippia and there was division. Paul urges the people whole-heartedly in tears not to follow them, but to Christ. Here by 'enemies of Cross' he refers to those who came with diverse teaching which abuse the Christian faith and doctrines. It is a question that should be posed before us- are we at any point of life becoming a stumbling block to the faith of the community? We are the followers of the Cross of Christ. Sometimes our interventions or even our pattern of life could block the clear view of His Cross. May this Great Lent help us to look into ourselves to find any speck of contamination and may this season of continuous prayers help us to wipe out all such things from our life.

Prayer: By Your Cross O Lord, be unto us, for the alienation of sinful passions and for intimacy with the works of righteousness that we may offer You praise and thanksgiving and to Your Only begotten Son and to Your Holy Spirit, now, always and forever. Amen (From the Anaphora of St. Xystus, AD 251)

Fifth Friday, Great Lent  

Having cancelled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. Colossians 2: 14  

Sometimes we will be over enthusiastic about the written codes and regulations forgetting the humanitarian needs and concerns. Now a days (even in olden days also) this become a cancer- in the life of the Church, in the functioning of different religions and even in the running of the governments. Laws are made to help the community and individual to have a safe and secured life provided it should be interpreted in the right way by the righteous people. Our methodology for interpreting the regulations should be the love of our Lord which was shown in the cross because it is clearly stated that, 'he took it away, nailing it to the cross'. 

Prayer:  Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path. I have taken an oath and confirmed it, that I will follow your righteous laws. (From Psalm 119).

Deliver us, O Lord God, from all evils, from all kinds of unlawfulness and wrong interpretations of your statutes. Forgive our sins and our transgressions and be absolvent to us and to all those who trespassed against us in whatever manner. Drive away from us, O Lord, all foul thoughts and enlighten our souls and sanctify our bodies that we may offer You praise and thanksgiving and to Your Only-begotten Son and to Your Holy Spirit, now, always and forever. Amen (From the Anaphora of Mar Dionysius Jacob Bar Salibi- AD 1171)

Fifth Saturday, Great Lent

 

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12: 2

 

 

In the pilgrimage of 'Great Lent' let us sum up the distinctive meanings of cross and follow the instruction given in this verse. That is, 'fixing our eyes on Jesus'. As it is said here 'he endured the cross' for the joy set before Him. The joy for Him is our salvation. As followers of Him we have to endure the crosses of our life for the greatest joy set before us.

Prayer:  O Lord, heal our sickness and infirmities because our minds are fixed on Your Cross, our eyes are lifted up to You, our hope and trust are in You always. Kindly give us Your endurance that we will praise and honor You with Your Father and Your Holy Spirit, now and forever. Amen (From the liturgy of the Mid-Lent)

 

Sixth Sunday, Great Lent

Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." Luke 23:34

 

In this week we shall meditate on the seven verses from the Gospels which is recorded as uttered by Jesus on the Cross. The first one in the list is "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing".

 

This is a prayer which integrally covers the following points:

-       The act of Christian forgiveness goes to that extend one should pray even for one's own exterminators. 

-       At the peak of a possibly greatest affliction to find the calmness to pray

-       In the midst of tortures not to have the spirit of condemnation

The question is whether these things are humanly possible or not; but the very aspiration towards the nature formulates the spiritual quest. Acts like observation of lent is essentially part of the exercise.

Prayer: Make us worthy, O Lord, that with our souls steadfast in Your Holy Cross, we may worship You as divinely befitting and with holiness. May we, in compliance with your supreme command, carry Your cross on our shoulders in a Christ like manner, always ready to forgive everyone and live according to Your statutes. Amen. (from the 'Good Friday' liturgy)

 

Sixth Monday, Great Lent

Jesus answered him, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise." Luke 23: 43

The context is last minute repentance and the assurance of salvation. The verse shows God's endless mercy and compassion. At the same time the incident doesn't gives us the option to postpone our way to sought salvation to the 'last hours' for the person in question here had this opportunity only towards his end of life whereas for us we start the journey of life in this Way. The thief who was nailed to the cross wishes to have the communion with our Lord. In the midst of all our troubles, afflictions and trying times let us earnestly wish for His communion

Prayer: We bow before the Cross by which we received salvation for our souls and with the thief we cry out: Remember us, O Christ, when You come. Amen (from the liturgy of the 'Adoration of the Cross', Good Friday).

  

Sixth Tuesday, Great Lent

When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, "Dear woman, here is your son," and to the disciple, "Here is your mother." From that time on, this disciple took her into his home. John 19:25, 26

  

Compassionate to see His mother at the foot of the cross our Lord entrusts her to his beloved disciple John. Natural responsibilities cannot be ignored or ruled out in spite of the fact that we may have immense social accountabilities. In the long run of life with our aspirations we may overlook natural responsibilities. Lenten season gives us this opportunity to look into any overseen responsibilities.  

Prayer: Grant us in this world things that are useful for our transitory life and in the world to come glory and perfect enlightenment for You are the Giver and Grantor of all the imperishable pleasures. Remind us O Lord, our responsibilities that You have entrusted us. We offer to You praise and thanksgiving to Your Only-begotten Son and to Your Holy Spirit, now, always and forever. Amen (From the Anaphora of St. Julius, AD 365)

 

Sixth Wednesday, Great Lent

About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?"—which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" Matthew 27:46 

In different theological schools in the past this passage has been interpreted differently. Some of the schools even distinctively understood the Divine and human nature of Christ through the words or deeds like this. In our meditation we are not concerned about these theological bifurcations; plainly looking into the text we could say that Jesus was reciting Psalm 22 at the climax of his sufferings. This simple prayer tremble the whole creation. The anguish He experienced on the Cross for us was well represented through this prayer. The death on a cross is a curse (Ref. Galatians 3: 13) and curse is an alienation. This quoted psalm reflects the alienation. For the absolution of our transgressions he underwent all these sufferings. The price paid for our salvation is much more than we could comprehend.  

Prayer: Christ our God, Who was crucified for the redemption of our race and Who experience all alienation, may Your Cross be unto us the sign of tranquility, the banner of victory and the armor of salvation. Protect us all under its wings and keep us by its victorious power, our Lord, and our God, forever. Amen (From the Good Friday- Liturgy of the Adoration of the Holy Cross)  

Sixth Thursday, Great Lent

Later, knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, "I am thirsty."

John 19:28

 Again this verse also well reflects the human frailty to which God came down. When John referring to the fulfillment of the Scripture probably it was Psalm 69:21(They… gave me vinegar for my thirst) he referring to. The God we worship is He Who assumed the human form and went through all the difficulties of the vulnerable human nature. Let us praise our Lord for His pathos.

Prayer: Glory be to the heavenly peace Who was lifted upon the Cross and by the stretching out of His hands saved us. We exalt You who came down and underwent all the human troubles. Bless and sanctify us. Amen. (From the liturgy of Good Friday)

Sixth Friday, Great Lent

When he had received the drink, Jesus said, "It is finished." With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. John 19:30

  

In the original language "It is finished" is just the one word- Tetelestai- which means 'to perform the last act which completes a process'. The word uttered by our Lord on the cross was thus a word of victory and a word of contentment in the accomplishment of the mission. The great purpose of God in the history of humankind is accomplished here. Our spiritual life is a response to this great accomplishment. Let us prepare ourselves in observing the great event as it is a reminder for all of us about the way of our salvation.

 

Prayer: O Lord, You are the Cup of Thanksgiving and Salvation that was mixed on the height of Golgotha and with it the sinners were cleansed and purified from iniquity. Lord, the Lover of mankind, bend toward us with Your love, prove in us Your grace, satisfy our hunger from Your richness, quench our thirst with the sweet fountain of Your delight, sprinkle our hearts, O my Lord, with the beauty of Your purity, inscribe in our souls the symbol of Your promises, enrich us with Your love, shower us with Your affection, lift up our minds to the great height of Your Godhead, make us worthy to meet You joyfully, grant that we may approach to receive Your atoning Body and Blood with purity and holiness and unite us with Your fellowship. Amen (From one of the ancient Promiyon-Sedros of the Holy Eucharistic service).

  

Sixth Saturday, Great Lent

Jesus called out with a loud voice, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit." When he had said this, he breathed his last.

Luke 23:46 

 

Through this final verse of commencement Jesus Christ was reaffirming the fact that God's presence is the ultimate place of eternal security. In the ocean of His eternal love our souls are to be commenced. God's nature is revealed in Jesus Christ and hence we have this ultimate model in Him. So this commencement is not an exemption but yet another act which is to be followed. We ought to face this moment of 'breathing the last' where we should gain the tranquility to peacefully commence our soul to Him. The preparation towards this is not a momentary act but it pervades as a life long aspect. May the Holy Spirit give us all the guidance in our preparations.

Prayer: O Lord God, make us worthy of the good end meant for the men and women of peace, O You, the Lord of peace and tranquility; Grant us that Christian end which is dear and proper to You and pleasing to the honor of Your Lordship; and to You we raise glory and thanksgiving, now, always and forever. Amen. (From the hoosoyo Prayer in H. Qurbana)