Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Fourth Friday of the Great Fast

Genesis 14:18-15:15
Joshua 9:1-14
Romans 11:25-36
John 7:14-36

Divine-Human encounter is most sublime in the Yahweh-Abraham relationship. In the Abraham episode we see the human face of Yahweh and divine transformation of Abraham. His call and response, his subsequent actions and his final atonement are unique. But this is the a blue print for anyone who wishes to have a divine experience. His encounter with Melchizedek, king of Salem and a priest of God Most High, his response to the offers of the king of Sodom, his hope in the hopelessness and his destiny were not accidental. They establish Abraham as the father of faith.

Prudence is a gift of God. In taking decisions in life, this gift has to be efficiently used. Unless one is prudent and vigilant, the distance to trouble in one’s life is much less. Here, Israelites are bluffed by Hivites because of their quick judgement and lack of prudence. On the contrary, Hivites saved themselves from complete destruction by their prudent action.

For Paul, the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable. Jews and now Christians have an upper hand in the process of Revelation. But this irrevocable call and gift from God gives greater responsibility. Gospel and patriarchs give a responsibility that is unavoidable. Paul is a perfect representative of those people who were responsible to their call and grateful to the gift they received. As a Jew and as a Christian, he is in the rank of the patriarchs.

Jesus tells what His origin is and foretells what He would do. He asks us to learn the obvious, the priority of mercy over law. What law intended was love and mercy but what it lacked was them. It is this contradiction that led to the Original Sin and the subsequent sinful nature of human beings. It finally led to the Crucifixion of Jesus. Even now the message is clear, i.e., “Stop judging by appearances, but judge justly.”

Revelation of God was not an exclusive one and hence salvation is not a monopoly of some group. There are parallel ways and diversified means whereby God revealed His plans to all the created beings. Melchizedek is the best example for this. God wants us to look deeply into ourselves and proclaim publicly His plan on each one of us during this Great Fast and subsequent seasons in our lives.

Fourth Thursday of the Great Fast

Genesis 14:1-17
Joshua 8:30-35
Romans 10:17-11:12
John 7:1-13

Abraham is an abode of forgiveness and care. When Lot’s kinsmen fought against his, he took initiative in giving whatever Lot wanted. Abraham took only what was not taken by Lot. Lot is now in trouble and is under captivity. Abraham with just 318 of his men defeats Chedorlaomer and the kings who were allied with him and liberates Lot and his flock. Abraham testifies that he is a true Patriarch. Parents are supposed to take care of their children when they are young. When they are older enough, they should allow them to live independently as Abraham did to Lot. Even if the children do give anything in return, parents should be watchful of what their children doing. If they are in trouble, they should go and help them.

Joshua establishes Israel as a God-oriented community. He explains to them the Law of Moses after conquering Canaan. The Law of Moses is inscribed upon the stones and in the heart of the Israelites. After the tumultuous exodus through the wilderness and planned takeover of the Promised Land, they gather around the altar of Yahweh. It is the altar that is the final destination of everyone. All the patriarchs have constructed altar for Yahweh wherever they went. Great Fast is a time where we construct and reconstruct altars in our life, family and community.

Though they gathered around the true altar by their great leaders, Israelites altered their life in search of false altars. They recklessly disobeyed Yahweh. Hence, Paul says that it is not the birth that makes you great, but the work. Be committed to the call. True altar is the altar of Jesus. Be counted among the loyal ones. Be graceful at the Cross. As Abraham went to Lot, Jesus is after us. Are we able to go with him from the captivity?

Jesus is preparing for the showdown. He is heading towards the Cross. He is clear about His mission. He is clear about His commitment. Commitment is equal to death. Commitment to God was death for Jesus, both mental and physical. What Israelites lacked was this commitment to Yahweh. Jesus testified this lack of commitment among them and hence they hated Him. They hated Him because He testified against their unfaithful nature. Jesus as a symbol of total surrender to Yahweh was and is a model for everyone of us.

Fourth Wednesday of the Great Fast

Mid-Fasting (25th day of the Great Fast)

Genesis 13:8-18
Joshua 8:18-29
Romans 9:30-10:17
John 6:51-70

Abraham is a peace loving man. He takes initiative in settling the dispute which did not emanate from him. The greatness of Abraham is seen his words to Lot, “If you go to the left, I will go to the right; if you go to the right, I will go to the left.” Abraham’s magnanimity is rewarded with the promise of uncountable descendants and immeasurable land by the source and fullness of magnanimity. Abraham takes solace at the altar of Yahweh which he constructs wherever he goes.

Joshua destroys the whole of Ai. He sets fire to everything impure as commanded by Yahweh. Yahaweh demands a total dedication from His chosen ones. When we deal with our sinful nature, it is the clean sweep that God asks us. Do not leave anything for a later return. It is this absolute dedication that was missing from the Israelites many a time and hence led to their disasters. When we take orders from God, do not dilute them for our temporal pleasures.

Paul is reaffirming the promise, "No one who believes in him will be put to shame." It is the undivided faith in Yahweh that helped Abraham and Joshua to be victorious. It is the undivided faith in Jesus that brings salvation to all. There is no distinction in the call we received. It is not what we were that matters but what we are. Are we able to burn our past and put all our eggs in one box? Are we able to to confess with our mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in our heart that God raised him from the dead? Only then we will be saved.

Jesus is the bread from heaven which gives eternal life. Life in fullness is offered only by Jesus. Faith in God is faith in Jesus. Faith in Jesus is the faith in what He preached. Words of Jesus were beyond human comprehension. He says,”Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.” Though these words were hard, Simon Peter sets the requirement of the new Israel: "Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God."

Great Fast is a time for reconciliation. Identify all others who are against us. Possess the broadmindedness of Abraham. Reconciliation is the reconciliation with God and reconciliation with the fellow beings. Construct ‘altar’ for God in every critical juncture of our life. Because ours is a demanding God. A God who wants our total commitment. A God who wants us share with Him the same Body and Blood.

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