Commentary and Reflection on This Weeks Readings
There is a golden thread that flows through the scriptures between Transfiguration Sunday and Pentecost that leads us into love and both individual and communal transformation. During these seasons of Lent and Easter, we’ll post a short commentary and questions for your reflection on the scriptures.
Ash Wednesday – Invitation to return to God with Whole Heart!
Readings: Joel 2:12-18, 2 Cor. 5:20-6:2, Mt. 6:1-6, 16-18
In the first reading, the Prophet Joel invites us to return to God with our whole heart. To return means to turn 180 degrees and face a new direction, to see things in an entirely different way, to turn from our way of looking at life, and to see life the way God sees it.
Matthew’s gospel describes ways for us to return to God through prayer, fasting, and alms giving. When we pray, Matthew encourages us to go into our inner room and close the door. He is sharing a way to go alone into the center of our heart, in and through silence. In our inmost being we can hear the voice of God’s wisdom.
Giving alms means sharing from your sustenance, not your surplus. Fasting means abstaining from what isn’t life giving. Fast from what is harmful to your body and soul. Fast in a way that will give you space and draw you closer to the Divine.
The invitation to return to God is personal and communal.
As we begin this Lenten journey we’re invited to dwell upon these readings and what they mean to us. Some questions we might ask ourselves are:
How am I being invited to pray in my inner room?
How am I being invited to fast?
How am I being invited to give alms?
How is our Holy Wisdom community being invited to pray in our inner room?
How is our Holy Wisdom community being invited to fast?
How is our Holy Wisdom community being invited to give alms?
1 Lent C – The Temptations in the Desert
Readings: Dt. 26:4-11, Rom. 10:8-13, Lk. 4:1-13
In our inner rooms we can reflect on these readings.
In the reading from Deuteronomy, the Hebrew people are being called to remember God led them out of slavery into freedom. God heard their cry and saw their affliction, toil, and oppression. And because of this all peoples, Hebrews and Levites and foreigners living among them, shall make merry and give thanks for all God has given.
In the gospel, after Jesus’ baptism, he is filled with the Holy Spirit who leads him out into the dessert for 40 days to be tempted by the devil. Jesus fasts and is hungry. The devil tempts him to rebel against God, to surrender his soul to illusion. Jesus rejects the temptations of economic power, political power, and societal power. He stays true to who he is and his identity as God’s beloved son. Jesus chooses God’s power of love as his mission. When he leaves the dessert he’s filled with the Holy Spirit, and he goes to Galilee and to teach and preach about the kindom of God.
The gospel invites us to examine how we’re tempted by power. The temptations we experience are part of our spiritual journey. Power seduces each of us from time to time. Unhealthy power harms and destroys community. It can enslave others and us. There is healthy power–the power of love. The power of love heals and builds up a community.
As we recognize and turn away from unhealthy power and begin to face a new direction, we begin to put on a new mind-set. There is hope for all of us as we face our temptations. As angels ministered to Jesus in the desert, we are invited to be ministering angels to each other in these times. It’s in community that we find blessing throughout our journey.
As we continue this Lenten journey of returning to God, we’re invited to dwell upon these readings and what they mean to us, in the inner rooms of our personal lives and in the life of Holy Wisdom. Here are some questions we might ask ourselves:
How are we tempted by power?
What is the healthy power of love?
What is our identity as beloved sons and daughters of God?
How do we embody God’s will?
What steps need to be taken to make a turn toward love?
More Opportunities for Growth
Want even more ways to reflect on the scriptures of Lent and what this season is all about? Alexander Shaia has been creating short Vimeo’s and writing blog posts that are helping many around the world go deeper into this season. Click on the links below to learn more.
- Being the Resurrection (You need to scroll down a bit to get this.)
- Re-Discovering Our Ancient Easter for Today (newsletter)
- Why was Lent Created
- Holding Space For Transformation
- Transfiguration Sunday
- Re-Imagining Ashes