2020 Lent Reading – Day 22

Saturday 21 March 2020

First Reading – John 8:12-30

Dispute Over Jesus’ Testimony
12 When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” 13 The Pharisees challenged him, “Here you are, appearing as your own witness; your testimony is not valid.” 14 Jesus answered, “Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid, for I know where I came from and where I am going. But you have no idea where I come from or where I am going. 15 You judge by human standards; I pass judgment on no one. 16 But if I do judge, my decisions are true, because I am not alone. I stand with the Father, who sent me. 17 In your own Law it is written that the testimony of two witnesses is true. 18 I am one who testifies for myself; my other witness is the Father, who sent me.” 19 Then they asked him, “Where is your father?” “You do not know me or my Father,” Jesus replied. “If you knew me, you would know my Father also.” 20 He spoke these words while teaching in the temple courts near the place where the offerings were put. Yet no one seized him, because his hour had not yet come.
Dispute Over Who Jesus Is
21 Once more Jesus said to them, “I am going away, and you will look for me, and you will die in your sin. Where I go, you cannot come.” 22 This made the Jews ask, “Will he kill himself? Is that why he says, ‘Where I go, you cannot come’?” 23 But he continued, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. 24 I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am he, you will indeed die in your sins.” 25 “Who are you?” they asked. “Just what I have been telling you from the beginning,” Jesus replied. 26 “I have much to say in judgment of you. But he who sent me is trustworthy, and what I have heard from him I tell the world.” 27 They did not understand that he was telling them about his Father. 28 So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up[a] the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me. 29 The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him.” 30 Even as he spoke, many believed in him.

Second Reading – Origen’s Commentary on the Gospel of John

Christ as the Resurrection
Now He is called the light of men and the true light and the light of the word, because He brightens and irradiates the higher parts of men, or, in a word, of all reasonable beings. And similarly it is from and because of the energy with which He causes the old deadness to be put aside and that which is par excellence life to be put on, so that those who have truly received Him rise again from the dead, that He is called the resurrection. And this He does not only at the moment at which a man says, Romans 6:4 We are buried with Christ through baptism and have risen again with Him, but much rather when a man, having laid off all about him that belongs to death, walks in the newness of life which belongs to Him, the Son, while here. We always 2 Corinthians 4:10 carry about in our body the dying of the Lord Jesus, and thus we reap the vast advantage, that the life of the Lord Jesus might be made manifest in our bodies.

Closing Prayer

O God show me your mercy and delight my heart with it. Let me find you whom I so longingly seek. Amen

2020 Lent Reading – Day 21

Friday 20 March 2020

First Reading – John 7:53 – 8:11

53 Then they all went home, 8 1 but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.
2 At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. 3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4 and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 6 They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. 9 At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11 “No one, sir,” she said “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

Second Reading – Origen’s commentary on the Gospel of John

How Jesus Himself is the Gospel.
The foregoing inquiry into the nature of the Gospel cannot be regarded as useless; it has enabled us to see what distinction there is between a sensible Gospel and an intellectual and spiritual one. What we have now to do is to transform the sensible Gospel into a spiritual one.
For what would the narrative of the sensible Gospel amount to if it were not developed to a spiritual one? It would be of little account or none; any one can read it and assure himself of the facts it tells — no more. But our whole energy is now to be directed to the effort to penetrate to the deep things of the meaning of the Gospel and to search out the truth that is in it when divested of types. Now what the Gospels say is to be regarded in the light of promises of good things; and we must say that the good things the Apostles announce in this Gospel are simply Jesus. One good thing which they are said to announce is the resurrection; but the resurrection is in a manner Jesus, for Jesus says: John 11:25 I am the resurrection. Jesus preaches to the poor those things which are laid up for the saints, calling them to the divine promises. And the holy Scriptures bear witness to the Gospel announcements made by the Apostles and to that made by our Saviour. David says of the Apostles, perhaps also of the evangelists: The Lord shall give the word to those that preach with great power; the King of the powers of the beloved; teaching at the same time that it is not skilfully composed discourse, nor the mode of delivery, nor well practised eloquence that produces conviction, but the communication of divine power. Hence also Paul says: I will know not the word that is puffed up, but the power; for the kingdom of God is not in word but in power. And in another passage: 1 Corinthians 2:4 And my word and my preaching were not persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the spirit and of power. To this power Simon and Cleophas bear witness when they say: Luke 24:32 Was not our heart burning within us by the way, as he opened to us the Scriptures? And the Apostles, since the quantity of the power is great which God supplies to the speakers, had great power, according to the word of David: The Lord will give the word to the preachers with great power. Isaiah too says: How beautiful are the feet of them that proclaim good tidings; he sees how beautiful and how opportune was the announcement of the Apostles who walked in Him who said, I am the way, and praises the feet of those who walk in the intellectual way of Christ Jesus, and through that door go in to God. They announce good tidings, those whose feet are beautiful, namely, Jesus.

Closing Prayer

O God, take away from me the heart of stone and give me a human heart, a heart to love and adore you, a heart to delight in you, to follow and enjoy you, for Christ’s sake. Amen

2020 Lent Reading – Day 20

Thursday 19 March 2020

First Reading – John 7:37-52

37 On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.”[c] 39 By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified. 40 On hearing his words, some of the people said, “Surely this man is the Prophet.” 41 Others said, “He is the Messiah.” Still others asked, “How can the Messiah come from Galilee? 42 Does not Scripture say that the Messiah will come from David’s descendants and from Bethlehem, the town where David lived?” 43 Thus the people were divided because of Jesus. 44 Some wanted to seize him, but no one laid a hand on him.
Unbelief of the Jewish Leaders
45 Finally the temple guards went back to the chief priests and the Pharisees, who asked them, “Why didn’t you bring him in?” 46 “No one ever spoke the way this man does,” the guards replied. 47 “You mean he has deceived you also?” the Pharisees retorted. 48 “Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed in him? 49 No! But this mob that knows nothing of the law—there is a curse on them.” 50 Nicodemus, who had gone to Jesus earlier and who was one of their own number, asked, 51 “Does our law condemn a man without first hearing him to find out what he has been doing?” 52 They replied, “Are you from Galilee, too? Look into it, and you will find that a prophet does not come out of Galilee.”

Second Reading – Origen on Prayer – Supplication, Prayer, Intercession and Thanksgiving

The following are examples of the first, supplication. Gabriel’s words to Zechariah, when he is apparently praying for the birth of John. This is the way it goes “Do not be afraid Zechariah, for your supplication is heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John (Luke 1:13). Next, what is written in Exodus at the time a Golden calf was made, as follows, “And Moses made supplication before the Lord God and said, O Lord, why does you wrath raged against your people, whom you have brough forth out of the land of Egypt with great power? (Exodus 32:11). Next, in Deuteronomy, “And I made supplication before the Lord, a second time as before; forty days and forty nights I neither ate bread nor drink water because of all the sins which you had committed (Deut 9:18).
The following are the examples of the second, prayer: In Daniel, “Then Azarias stood and offered this prayer; in the midst of the fire he opened his mount and said”. Hannah in 1 Samuel, “And she prayed to the Lord, and wept bitterly. And she prayed a prayer and said, “O Lord of Hosts, if you will indeed look on the lowliness of your maidservant, and so forth” (1 Sam 1:10-11). Next in Habakkuk, “A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet, with music, “O Lord, I have heard your voice and been afraid. O Lord, I have considered your works and been amazed. In the midst of the two living creatures you will be known; as the years draw near you will be recognised.” (Hab 3:1-2). This gives an especially clear definition of prayer, because it is offered with by the one praying.
The following are examples of the third, intercession: In the writings of the Apostle, where he quite reasonably assigns prayer to our control, but intercession to that of the Spirit, since He is better and has boldness with the One to whom He makes intercession. What he says is, “ For what we should pray for as we ought we do not know, but the Spirit Himself makes special intercession for us to God with sighs too deep for words. And He who searches the hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God (Roma 8:26-27). For the Spirit “makes special intercession” and “intercedes” but we pray. It seems to me that what Joshua says about the sun standing still at Gibeon is an intercession, “Then spoke Joshua to the Lord in the day when the Lord gave the Amorites into the hands of Israel, when He crushed them in Gibeon, and they were crushed before the children of Israel. And Joshua said, “Let the sun stand still at Gibeon, and the moon in the valley of Elom” (Josh 10:12).
And example of Thanksgiving is the voice of our Lord, when He said, “I give thanks to you, O Father, Lord of Heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes.” (Matt 11:25)

Closing Prayer

Dear Lord, thank you for sending Jesus who is our living water and whoever believes in him will never be thirsty. Amen.

2020 Lent Reading – Day 19

Wednesday 18 March 2020

First Reading – John 7: 14-36

Jesus Teaches at the Festival
14 Not until halfway through the festival did Jesus go up to the temple courts and begin to teach. 15 The Jews there were amazed and asked, “How did this man get such learning without having been taught?” 16 Jesus answered, “My teaching is not my own. It comes from the one who sent me. 17 Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own. 18 Whoever speaks on their own does so to gain personal glory, but he who seeks the glory of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him. 19 Has not Moses given you the law? Yet not one of you keeps the law. Why are you trying to kill me?” 20 “You are demon-possessed,” the crowd answered. “Who is trying to kill you?” 21 Jesus said to them, “I did one miracle, and you are all amazed. 22 Yet, because Moses gave you circumcision (though actually it did not come from Moses, but from the patriarchs), you circumcise a boy on the Sabbath. 23 Now if a boy can be circumcised on the Sabbath so that the law of Moses may not be broken, why are you angry with me for healing a man’s whole body on the Sabbath? 24 Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly.” Division Over Who Jesus Is 25 At that point some of the people of Jerusalem began to ask, “Isn’t this the man they are trying to kill? 26 Here he is, speaking publicly, and they are not saying a word to him. Have the authorities really concluded that he is the Messiah? 27 But we know where this man is from; when the Messiah comes, no one will know where he is from.” 28 Then Jesus, still teaching in the temple courts, cried out, “Yes, you know me, and you know where I am from. I am not here on my own authority, but he who sent me is true. You do not know him, 29 but I know him because I am from him and he sent me.” 30 At this they tried to seize him, but no one laid a hand on him, because his hour had not yet come. 31 Still, many in the crowd believed in him. They said, “When the Messiah comes, will he perform more signs than this man?” 32 The Pharisees heard the crowd whispering such things about him. Then the chief priests and the Pharisees sent temple guards to arrest him. 33 Jesus said, “I am with you for only a short time, and then I am going to the one who sent me. 34 You will look for me, but you will not find me; and where I am, you cannot come.” 35 The Jews said to one another, “Where does this man intend to go that we cannot find him? Will he go where our people live scattered among the Greeks, and teach the Greeks? 36 What did he mean when he said, ‘You will look for me, but you will not find me,’ and ‘Where I am, you cannot come’?”

Second Reading: Origen on Prayer in general

Who: Born around AD185 in Alexandria. Origen’s life is largely derived from Book VI of Eusebius of Caesaria’s Ecclesiastical History. Origen’s main work, De Principiis (On First Principles), was the first systematic exposition of Christian theology ever written. Origen worked for 20 years on his Hexapla, a massive work of Old Testament analysis written to answer Jewish and Gnostic critics of Christianity. An examination of Biblical texts, it had six parallel columns: one in Hebrew, and the other five in various Greek translations, including one he found at Jericho in a jar. Origen courted controversies during and after his lifetime. Notwithstanding that, his love of the Logos (Christ) is unquestionable. Now since the Apostle in 1 Timothy used four terms for things directly related to the discussion of prayer, it will be useful to set down his statement and to see whether we rightly comprehend each of the four precisely understood. This is what he said, “First of all, then, I urge that supplication, prayer, intercession, and thanksgiving to be made for all men and so forth” (1 Tim 2:1). I think supplication is a prayer offered with entreaty to get something a person lacks, while prayer is something nobler offered by a person with praise and for greater object. And I think that intercession is a petition for certain things addressed to God by someone who has some greater boldness, while thanksgiving is a statement of gratitude made with prayers for receiving good things from God, either when it is a great thing that is received and acknowledge with gratitude or when the greatness of the benefit is one that appears only to the one who has benefited.

2020 Lent Reading – Day 18

Tuesday 17 March 2020

First Reading – John 7:1-13

Jesus Goes to the Festival of Tabernacles

7 After this, Jesus went around in Galilee. He did not want[a] to go about in Judea because the Jewish leaders there were looking for a way to kill him. 2 But when the Jewish Festival of Tabernacles was near, 3 Jesus’ brothers said to him, “Leave Galilee and go to Judea, so that your disciples there may see the works you do. 4 No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world.” 5 For even his own brothers did not believe in him. 6 Therefore Jesus told them, “My time is not yet here; for you any time will do. 7 The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify that its works are evil. 8 You go to the festival. I am not[b] going up to this festival, because my time has not yet fully come.” 9 After he had said this, he stayed in Galilee. 10 However, after his brothers had left for the festival, he went also, not publicly, but in secret. 11 Now at the festival the Jewish leaders were watching for Jesus and asking, “Where is he?” 12 Among the crowds there was widespread whispering about him. Some said, “He is a good man.” Others replied, “No, he deceives the people.” 13 But no one would say anything publicly about him for fear of the leaders.

Second Reading – From a sermon of Saint Leo the Great

The Law was given through Moses, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ The Lord reveals his glory in the presence of chosen witnesses. His body is like that of the rest of mankind, but he makes it shine with such splendour that his face becomes like the sun in glory, and his garments as white as snow. The great reason for this transfiguration was to remove the scandal of the cross from the hearts of his disciples, and to prevent the humiliation of his voluntary suffering from disturbing the faith of those who had witnessed the surpassing glory that lay concealed.
With no less forethought he was also providing a firm foundation for the hope of holy Church. The whole body of Christ was to understand the kind of transformation that it would receive as his gift: the members of that body were to look forward to a share in that glory which first blazed out in Christ their head.
The Lord had himself spoken of this when he foretold the splendour of his coming: Then the just will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Saint Paul the apostle bore witness to this same truth when he said: I consider that the sufferings of the present time are not to be compared to the future glory that is to be revealed in us. In another place he says: You are dead, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, your life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory.
This marvel of the transfiguration contains another lesson for the apostles, to strengthen them and lead them into the fullness of knowledge. Moses and Elijah, the law and the prophets, appeared with the Lord in conversation with him. This was in order to fulfil exactly, through the presence of these five men, the text which says: Before two or three witnesses every word is ratified. What word could be more firmly established, more securely based, than the word which is proclaimed by the trumpets of both old and new testaments, sounding in harmony, and by the utterances of ancient prophecy and the teaching of the Gospel, in full agreement with each other?
The writings of the two testaments support each other. The radiance of the transfiguration reveals clearly and unmistakably the one who had been promised by signs foretelling him under the veils of mystery. As Saint John says: The law was given through Moses, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. In him the promise made through the shadows of prophecy stands revealed, along with the full meaning of the precepts of the law. He is the one who teaches the truth of the prophecy through his presence, and makes obedience to the commandments possible through grace.
In the preaching of the holy Gospel all should receive a strengthening of their faith. No one should be ashamed of the cross of Christ, through which the world has been redeemed.
No one should fear to suffer for the sake of justice; no one should lose confidence in the reward that has been promised. The way to rest is through toil, the way to life is through death. Christ has taken on himself the whole weakness of our lowly human nature. If then we are steadfast in our faith in him and in our love for him, we win the victory that he has won, we receive what he has promised.
When it comes to obeying the commandments or enduring adversity, the words uttered by the Father should always echo in our ears: This is my Son, the beloved, in whom I am well pleased; listen to him.