Today, these same weekday Scripture readings can be a splendid way of reminding us of the essentials of our faith.
The Lenten Scripture readings include the story of Jonah, the story of Susanna, the Ten Commandments, the Lord’s Prayer, the parable of the prodigal son, the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, parts of the Sermon on the Mount, the two great commandments, the Last Judgment (Mathew 25), and many other favorites, including hopeful passages from Isaiah and Ezekiel. Themes of God’s compassion and our duty to the poor are repeated throughout Lent.
Immediately after Ash Wednesday, Deuteronomy asks us to choose life and Luke’s Gospel speaks of the death and resurrection of Jesus and our call to follow him. This is the big picture for the disciples of Christ.
On Friday, Isaiah tells us that the fasting desired by the Lord is
releasing those bound unjustly,
untying the thongs of the yoke;
Setting free the oppressed,
breaking every yoke;
Sharing your bread with the hungry,
sheltering the oppressed and the homeless;
Clothing the naked when you see them,
and not turning your back on your own.
On Saturday, Isaiah continues with calls to remove oppression, false accusation and malicious speech and to bestow your bread on the hungry and satisfy the afflicted. This is followed by the call of Levi, the tax collector, in Luke’s Gospel, where Jesus must defend himself for eating and drinking with tax collectors and sinners.
Thus begins Lent with key themes of the Gospels: the death and resurrection of Jesus, the call to discipleship, and special concern for the hungry and the poor.Read More »