February 20, 2018
by Edward Morse
Creighton University's School of Law
click here for photo and information about the writer

Tuesday of the First Week of Lent
Lectionary: 225

Isaiah 55:10-11
Psalms 34:4-5, 6-7, 16-17, 18-19
Matthew 6:7-15

Praying Lent
Lent Prayer for Today

The First Week of Lent - 26 min. - Text Transcript

Beginning My Lenten Patterns
The Invitation of Lent
Choosing Lent, Acting Lent.

Today’s readings present simple yet powerful truths about the reality of God working in our lives, which challenge and encourage us during our Lenten journey.

Isaiah begins with the beautiful imagery of the water cycle.  The ancients understood that rain and snow that came down to water the earth eventually returned to the heavens.  The water cycle is quite dependable over time, albeit with seasonal variations and exceptional periods of drought or rainfall that can cause distress.  Isaiah confirms that the word of the Lord also has a dependable cycle in going forth and returning to accomplish that which God intends.  However, I think this cycle likewise presents some irregularities, at least from a human perspective.

In the midst of a drought or a flood, we often focus primarily on our unmet needs.   Farmers are acutely aware when drought is harming our crops or when rain is drowning them out.  It hurts.  But difficult times pass and somehow we still manage to go on growing.  We learn that we are ultimately sustained even through periods of discomfort and distress.  We do not give up, but continue our work of growing and producing food. 

These struggles with weather, which are opaque to many in a world of specialized labor, may help us when we are struggling in our spiritual life.  Lent seems to reveal these struggles and the greater reality reality that God may be forming us in their midst.  God is not only preparing a journey for us, but he is also preparing us to thrive in it!

We all face struggles with forgiveness.  Past wrongs can sting us like a hailstone.  Our peace is disturbed as we feel the lump our head and remember how much it hurts.  If that lump comes from the unjust act of another, we can really be stewing in our own bad juices.  We are reassured that injustice will be rectified, but there is that awful period of waiting.  We feel a little consolation as we read in the Psalms that the Lord is close to the broken-hearted and saves the crushed in spirit.  

Sometimes we need time to heal.  But eventually we need to stop waiting and stewing, and get moving!  Fears can keep us from moving, including the reality that more hurt and angst likely awaits us.  Lord, as you promised, please deliver us from those fears that keep us from trusting in your goodness and going on in the journey you are preparing for us.

In today’s gospel, Jesus gently nudges us toward the important truth that God our Father sustains us even as he invites us to ask him for sustenance.  Notably, both food and forgiveness are part of that sustaining power. With the help of modern technologies, food has become widely available, but I do not think we are doing so well with forgiveness.  In fact, technologies make it possible for accusations and complaints to fly freely all around us, creating a toxic atmosphere that affects our ability to give and receive forgiveness.

Lord, please deliver us from our complaints and from fault-finding during this Lenten season.  Help us to see your goodness and mercy in our midst, even in others who sometimes disappoint us.  The Word you have sent forth has indeed become flesh and dwelt among us, showing us love and mercy.  Let us also liberally distribute these gifts we have received, so that we can accomplish your purposes.  Thanks be to God.

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