Lenten Contemplations

 Day Ten - Friday The Chair of St. Peter the Apostle (abstinence from meat)
God's promises are so abundant throughout the bible - nearly every passage and story contains a promise from our Lord.  His promises are treasures which my heart holds dearly and I seek to continue to find these treasures on my path.  One of my favorite promises our heavenly Father made to man through Jeremiah the prophet, who God said to him, "See, I place my words in your mouth!" - Jeremiah 1:10 , is on the New Covenant:

"But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days, say the Lord.
I will place my law within them, and write it upon their hearts; I will be their God, and they shall be
my people.  No longer will they have need to teach their friends and kinsmen how to know the Lord. 
All, from least to greatest, shall know me, says the Lord, for I will forgive their evildoing and
remember their sin no more." 

Jeremiah 31: 33-34; The New American Bible

This promise is realized through his Son, our Lord Jesus.  For Jesus offered the forgiveness of sins through his persecutions and taught that God is in our hearts.  He reached out to those who did not have God. At the time when Jesus was on earth, the law of God was kept in exclusivity by the spiritual teachers, and the masses - the general populace - were not privy to such information.  They were taught the precepts by their teachers, but did not have an opportunity to embrace the words of the Lord and receive salvation on their own. 

So when Jesus came into his ministry, he opened the doors of the Kingdom unto the people - the common, the less fortunate, those who were turned away by the high and mighty; those considered unworthy of the Law and the word of our heavenly Father.  Jesus was criticized and  unliked for doing such a thing - for he elucidated the mysteries of the kingdom to the commoners - to all who had ears and would listen. 

He gave them salvation without debt to man. 

This day in the catholic church is the feast day of the Chair of St. Peter the Apostle.  Cephas (Aramaic), Peter (Greek), both mean "rock".  Jesus chose Peter as the rock of the church - the body of Christ.  The key to the Kingdom of heaven was given unto Peter to build up the church by sharing the wisdom imparted unto him. 

Peter was a fisherman and impassioned with a distaste for the oppression of the people by the religious order at the time.  He was so "on fire" that it would bring great joy to Jesus.  They spent much time together and formed a close bond - truly Jesus and Peter were great friends. 

On the day when Jesus would be taken by the guard to stand trial for "blasphemy", Peter, in fear, (or more likely in accordance with God's plan), denied the one he loved.  When asked if he knew Christ, he proclaimed he did not.  He did this three times.  He was stricken with great angst and grief as he knew he denied the truth and the Lord he loved so dearly.  In his heart, I am certain he thought he could never be forgiven for this lie. 

But when Christ resurrected and visited the apostles he gave Peter an opportunity to atone for having denied Christ:

"When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of John,
do you love me more than these?"  He said to him, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you." 
He said to him, "Feed my lambs."  He then said to him a second time, "Simon, son of John,  do you love me?"  He said to him, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you."  He said to him, "Tend my sheep."   He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?"  Peter was distressed that he had said to him a third time, "Do you love me?"  and said to him, "Lord, you know everything: you know that I love you."   [Jesus] said to him, "Feed my sheep.   Amen, amen,
I say to you, when you were younger, you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go."  He said this signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God.  And when he had said this, he said to him, "Follow me."

John 21:15-19;
The New American Bible


This scripture is interpreted as an act of forgiveness unto Peter by Christ - giving him three opportunities to profess his love for the Lord and atone for the three times he denied Christ.  I think also to this is something more.  I think the Father forgave Peter; the Son forgave Peter; and the Holy Spirit forgave Peter.  I see that the Holy Trinity again held to the promise of forgiveness for all our sins, regardless of what they may be, through acceptance of Christ as our salvation.  Peter accepted, believed and followed Christ - no matter what was to come - for he was told by Christ about his death before he set foot on the path of building up the church and it is through this we witness the fulfillment of that promise to be shared with all.

 Day Eleven - Saturday
It seems in this modern world there are so many snares to make one fall prey to the depths of their emotions.  Whether we are dealing with family issues, moral issues, work issues, health issues - no matter what they be, they can weigh heavily upon us and drain our defenses leading us into emotional turmoil. 

Without a means to dispel these heavy burdens, we are left fluttering around from idea to idea, seeking authority; seeking salvation from that which ills us. 

But when you walk with Christ, you find things begin to change.  You start to hear his reply to your life situations, and with listening, you realize the hope, but more than this, you see the evidence of his truth.  As you meditate upon his teachings, you see them flowering in the people around you and within yourself.  You begin to understand the depth of his parables and find yourself applying them to your life situations.  And then you are rewarded with the results of victory.

Christ said,


"Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart;
and you will find rest for yourselves.  For my yoke is easy and my burden light."


Matthew 11:28-30; The New American Bible

If you look at this teaching of light clearly, you see that the "heaviness of the spirit" - the cross you carry in life - can be enormous and will become less heavy on your soul as you accept the deeper expression implied.  Jesus is the light of the world.  He is pure, he is luminous, he is freedom and salvation.   With Jesus, the only burden you will endure is Light and Light is far from a burden, it's a blessing.  A gift given to us if only we receive it.  For if all you have to endure is light, light from the kingdom of God, no matter how heavy that cross becomes, you will always have the help of the Heavenly Kingdom to assist you.
Day Twelve - Sunday
When we call upon the Lord for assistance, we are given many opportunities to be assisted.  If we are praying for patience, we find ourselves tested by temperance.  We ask for help and we get help in everything.  Sometimes though, it may not be according to our designs.  What this means is that what we are asking for is being given, yet we still find the answers to our prayers seem unattended.  Until we take the time to listen to our prayers, understand what we are asking for, and how to ask with a gracious and humble heart, we may end up with generalities.  These general answers lead us to probe deeper into ourselves, finding our hearts opening unto the Lord and our minds seeking more and more answers.   

Christ teaches us this concept through this parable,

"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Which one of you would hand his son a stone when he asks for a loaf of bread, or a snake when he asks for a fish? If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give things to those who ask him."
Matthew 7:7; The New American Bible

His word is true.  For when we ask for kindness, we receive kindness, or perhaps a situation in which we must be kind to another.  When we ask for guidance, a guide shows up.  What is obvious, is that he answers.  What is not as obvious is a very specific line in that parable, "Which one of you would hand his son a stone when he asks for a loaf of bread, or a snake when he asks for a fish?"   What Christ is sharing is that if you ask only for patience, then you will receive it, just as if you ask for a loaf of bread he will give it to you.  What he is illuminating is that to receive what we want, we must learn to be specific.  We must learn that our heavenly Father will give to us what we want, but we have to know what we want, because he wants us to know what we want.  We have to be careful to not get too over-detailed that we find ourselves rambling conditions that limit what can be given to us. 

He is a God of choice, and he allows us the time and space to explore our hearts desires and discern between the heart and the ego.  He will not force us to make a moral choice or one for humanity, however if you are praying to him, he will challenge your reasons and desires and let you discover for yourself what it is you truly want.

This is why we must have faith that the Father's will for our lives is our will.  And in knowing this, then we begin to see that he knows what we want and need, long before we realize it.  It is he who puts the longing on our hearts and we can hear him say, "It's already been given" when we ask for his blessings.  This is why we are instructed to pray in praise and thanksgiving, not in desire and wantonness and listing our multiple requests.  If we silence our urges and desires, we see the beautiful packages he's laid before us; and as we receive them on our path, we then feel gratitude in our hearts, because he has silently given unto us our hearts desire. 

"What does Scripture say?  The word is near you,
in your mouth and in your heart
(that is, the word of faith that we preach), for, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved"
- Romans 10:8; The New American Bible

And so it is in all aspects of our lives.  If we do not have faith in Christ, how can we ask, seek or knock and know that it will be given unto us, found by us, or opened unto us?  Where there is doubt - pray for confidence in that matter and ask to be that confidence.  Where there is anger - pray for a peaceful spirit for all involved.  Where there is fear - pray for bravery.   It is best to be specific with the Lord, as he will give to us what we ask, or at the very least, we will come to understand why we may not get it.

It takes great humbleness to set aside our control for what we want in life - and great wisdom.


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