March 23 – Monday in the Fourth Week of Lent
Isaiah 65:17-25 | John 4:43-54
Psalm 30:1-6, 11-13
So, Jesus is the man! A rock star! We all know that and we’ve witnessed his miracles. But back in the day, unless you were in His circle; especially Galilee, you probably didn’t have a clue who He was.
Turning water into wine is no small thing and definitely impressed all who were there. Any non-believers surely had to take a second look at their lives.
Now, this Royal official’s son was dying and after hearing of the miracles in Cana, sought Jesus’ help. As a father, I can totally empathize with him and his desire to believe Jesus could save him. But in that moment, does he really believe, or is just grasping for anything that might save his child?
When Jesus said, “Unless you see signs and wonders, you will not believe.” I understood Him to mean, “If I have to show you first, did you really have faith to begin with?”
So, the official receives the news that his boy will be ok and further realizes the turning point was the moment he accepted Jesus and gained his faith; not after the “signs and wonders”.
Nowadays, finding someone to take anything on faith is a miracle in itself. We all want to see it first. We want proof before we take that leap.
This Gospel was encouraging to me personally and shows how faith can be a powerful tool against all the cynicism we encounter daily.
March 24 – Tuesday in the Fourth Week of Lent
Ezekiel 47:1-9, 12 | John 5:1-18
EZEKIEL 47: 1-9,12
I have chosen to meditate and write about the Old Testament lesson for this day from Ezekiel. Long story short – Ezekiel is led by God to witness waters flowing from the Temple in Jerusalem (a place where God was thought to live), and the flowing waters became ever deeper and wider as they flowed down until the waters met the stagnant waters of the Dead Sea. It made the stagnant waters fresh and flowed mightily creating abundant fish and trees and plants along its banks with abundant fresh fruits. And God told Ezekiel that the fruit would not fail, and the leaves would not wither, and the fruit was for food and the leaves for healing.
It seems like a strange passage to me at first, but with a little meditation and contemplation, it became a magnificent story and metaphor for the greatness, and goodness, and power of our God. Through Ezekiel, God seems to be saying that He is all powerful, and He can make things that are stagnant, useless, and bad into things that are vibrant, living, and good. And He can and will provide everything to meet our needs of food, healing, etc.
As I write this, I am fresh from returning from Epiphany’s mission trip to Honduras. And I am thinking about the wonderful people we have come to know and love there. They are materially poor by our standards. They live in smallish open air, cement block homes along dirt roads, with only curtains in the doorways. They cook over wood stoves with limited (if any) refrigeration. There are few smallish toilet rooms, but the toilets often don’t work.
Yet God seems to provide everything that they need to live, and they are very happy. Spiritually, they are very rich, and they are willingly eager to share their spiritual richness with us as we are there with them sharing our material richness to build new Church buildings and entertain and teach and show their children more about the love and nature of God and Jesus. So, our time with them becomes a mighty, God-enabled, loving partnership, and we bask together in the living waters poured out from God upon us all. It is an incredibly wonderful, mountaintop experience for us all.
THANKS BE TO GOD!
March 25 – The Annunciation
Isaiah 7:10-14 | Psalm 45 OR Psalm 40:5-11 OR Canticel 15 (or 3)
Hebrews 10:4-10 | Luke 1:26-38
The Feast of the Annunciation commemorates how God called a young Jewish woman to be the mother of His Son, and how Mary accepted her vocation with perfect conformity of will. It has been said, “God made us without us, and redeemed us without us, but cannot save us without us.” Mary’s acceptance of her vocation to bear the Son of God opened the way for God to accomplish the salvation of the world. For this reason all generations are to call her “blessed.”
Mary’s complete acceptance of God’s call can be compared to that of Abraham, the father of believers. Just as Abraham accepted God’s call to be the father of the chosen people, Mary accepted God’s call to be the mother of the faithful, the new Israel. Her response, “Let it be to me according to your word,” is identical to the faith expressed in the prayer that Jesus taught, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
What are other similarities of the calls of Mary and Abraham?
- They demanded extraordinary faithfulness.
- Abraham (or Abram) had to leave his family to go to a place where God would show him. Mary knew that raising the Son of God would not be easy. When Joseph and Mary took Jesus to the temple, Simeon praised God with his song. And afterwards said to Mary, “This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed – and a sword will pierce your own soul too.”
- Both are revered for their faithfulness.
Just as God had plans for Abraham and Mary, He has a plan for your life and mine. May we have the same willingness to accept His call, regardless of where it leads!
March 26 – Thursday in the Fourth Week of Lent
Exodus 32:7-14 | John 5:30-47
Psalm 106:6-7, 19-23
Both of the readings from Psalms and Exodus speak of the people brought out of Egypt by Moses losing their faith in God during the absence of Moses and turning to a graven image to worship. Moses intercedes with God in their behalf and reminds Him that these are His chosen people, and asks Him to renew the covenant.
As the children of Israel said, we have sinned, we have done wrong.
There are times in our own lives where we lose focus, forget to center our lives in the word and drift away. We no longer trust in God. We don’t really turn to images to worship; however, there are a lot of things in life that can be compared to graven images. Too much time is spent on things that draw us away from our faith:
Wants not needs.
Bright shiny things that catch our energy, belief systems and love.
Time spent in less than nourishing pastimes.
Acceptance from one another rather than God.
Jesus intercedes for us to draw our hearts and minds back to God. He is of God, our salvation. Jesus seeks to renew our covenant with God.
Lent is a good time to renew our faith, to immerse ourselves in the daily readings, remind ourselves of our bond with God, strengthen it and turn away from the “golden calves” of the world, trusting in God.
March 27 – Friday in the Fourth Week of Lent
Wisdom 2:1a, 12-24 | John 7:1-2, 10, 25-30
These scriptures reflect on how to live daily in hope and expectation when faced with seemingly impossible obstacles. At times you may be faced with satanic attacks from the unrighteous who appear to receive some type of pleasure from the words: “If you are a child of God, why does He not deliver you from your distresses”?
At times like these, one answer is the word “Remembrance”. Even when enveloped in struggles and depression, God says He will deliver you from ALL your troubles and not SOME . God says he is especially near to the brokenhearted and those who are crushed in spirit.
When you find yourself in deep despair — TAKE ACTION. Write down your remembrances of those times God delivered you from a similar situation. Then proclaim aloud that this will happen again.
Just WAIT FOR THE LORD to deliver you and praise His name when He does.
March 28 – Saturday in the Fourth Week of Lent
Jeremiah 11:18-20 | John 7:37-52
Today’s readings from Jeremiah Chapter 11 and Psalm 7 are both direct and literal requests for God’s judgment against each author’s enemies. Jeremiah says in verse 20, “But you, O Lord of hosts, who judge righteously, who try the heart and the mind, let me see your retribution upon them, for to you I have committed my cause.”
And King David in Psalm 7 verse 6, “Rise up, O Lord, in your anger; lift yourself up against the fury of my enemies; awake, O my God; you have appointed a judgment.” Central to both requests though are: 1) the recognition by both men that God is a righteous judge, and 2) that both men are requesting what they believe to be God’s judgement, not their own.
So as I read the Gospel account of Jesus at the Feast of the Tabernacles and the resulting dispute over who He is, I’m scratching my head looking desperately for an enemy somebody wants destroyed or some tie-in to God’s righteous judgement…pretty much anything to help me tie the 3 readings together. But not finding anything literal and obvious in that regard, I began to realize how lucky I am to live in this place and time where I don’t have to make a judgement between the pre-existing laws and our Savior’s promise. And how lucky I am to have a Bible available to me that lays the whole plan out for me. Verses 41 and 42 give us: “Others said “This is the Messiah.” But some asked, “Surely the Messiah does not come from Galilee, does he? Has not the scripture said that the Messiah is descended from David and comes from Bethlehem, the village where David lived?”. Even a quick Wikipedia search would have given the Priests and Pharisees some handy information to help them put 2 and 2 together.
And with that I realized that not only is our (my) judgement of anyone not only wrong at its surface, but a waste of time and energy considering God’s judgement is really all that matters. Race…Gender…Sexual orientation…Political affiliation…Age…Socioeconomic status…Crunchy vs Creamy…The designated hitter… these are just a few of the infinite number of “criteria” we find ourselves constantly bombarded with as we do our best to make it through each day alongside one another. And if left to our own devices, we invariably end up forming judgements about each other. Particularly in this modernest of times, with 24/7, never-further-than-arm’s-reach access to mass media outlets that thrive on confrontation, and social media platforms allowing us (seemingly encouraging us…) to latch onto those judgements and resulting confrontations as an outlet for self-indulgent expression and/or entertainment.
Jesus lays it out pretty plainly beginning in verse 37, “On the last day of the festival, the great day, while Jesus was standing there, he cried out, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, “Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.” I think I’ll work a little harder to just focus on that rather than all the noise going on around us. Maybe all that noise going on around us is the enemy I was looking for to begin with.