“By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” (1 John 3:16)
Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate – The Church of Alexandria

St. Mary & St. Athanasius Coptic Orthodox Church
Reaching out to Somerset and Hunterdon Counties in NJ

The Great Fast

We thank our Lord for having brought us to this holy season once more, in which the Church guides us in giving many types of offerings unto God our Father, advancing ourselves to become a better reflection of our Savior and a finer tool for His work.
The Holy Spirit has guided the Church in designing these holy days for us, that when we practice them with willingness, faithfulness and reverence, not only do we obtain great spiritual, physical, and mental benefit and growth, but the heavenly blessings that surpass all understanding.
The Great Fast is composed of three parts; Substitution/Preparation week-7 days; the Holy 40 Days; Holy Week-8 days, totaling 55 days.
Holy Week starts Saturday March 31st, and the Feast of the Resurrection will be Sunday, April 8th.
May the Lord sustain us through these great and holy days and bring us to the joy of His holy Resurrection in peace and strength.

Preparing for Great Fast

An excerpt from:
Preparing For the Great Lent: A Period of Mercy
By the Thrice-Blessed His Holiness Pope Shenouda III

Fasting without repentance and changing one’s life becomes useless. Unless the fasting person changes his life during fasting, he will only be hungry and exhausted without gaining anything else. Therefore, the Church constantly reminds us of the importance of repentance during fasting. Before Great Lent, we fast Jonah’s Fast and we live the story of Jonah and the Ninevites’ repentance. During the third Sunday of Lent, the Holy Church offers us the Gospel reading of the Prodigal Son as a model of repentance, which requires an awakening, confession of sins, leaving the place of sin, and returning to the Heavenly Father with confidence in His mercies and acceptance. This parable reveals to us the depth of God’s love for sinners and how He accepts them no matter how horrendous their sin is. Our Lord Jesus Christ said, “the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.” (John 6: 37) Christ “has come to save that which was lost.” (Matt. 18:11) God desires that all men be saved and come to the knowledge of truth (1Tim. 2:4). Christ is the True Physician who is needed by those who are ill by sin. He did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance (Mark 2: 17). Repentance is a result of divine action; it is the Spirit of God, Who moves the hearts of sinners to repent. It is written in the Holy Bible, “For it is God who works in you both to will and do for His good pleasure.” (Phil. 2: 13) God’s pleasure is in the return of a sinner so that he will not die in his sin. When God sees his sinful child returning to Him, He has compassion and goes to him, kissing him, and welcomes his return by saying, “It is right that we should make merry and be glad.” (Luke 15: 32) The return of a sinner and his repentance results in joy to God, as well as all those in heaven, because, “there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance.” (Luke 15: 7) During Great Lent, we praise God for His many mercies. The Doxology of Great Lent presents to us a magnificent hymn in praising God on His mercies, as well as asking for His mercies. The first Doxology of the Sundays of Great Lent starts with the following: I will praise you, O Lord, for your mercies are forever. From generation to generation, my mouth shall declare Your truth. In this beautiful doxology, we praise God for His mercies. Then the chanter remembers his many sins and transgressions by saying, ” My sins are heavy over my head.” As his sins are revealed in front of him, he then remembers the stories of those who repented and were accepted by God, so he won’t lose hope. Therefore, he remembers the publican, the adulteress, and the thief and asks God to make him like any one of them. Again, he recalls God’s attributes by saying, “I know You are good, kind and merciful. Remember me in Your mercy forever.” God does not wish the death of a sinner but that he should return and live. Then the chanter remembers his sins once again and says: “I have sinned, O Jesus, my Lord, I have sinned, O Jesus, my God, O my King, do not count the sins I have committed.” He asks for God’s mercies and not to be punished like Sodom and Gomorrah, but to have mercy on him like the Ninevites. The chanter ends his praise by saying: “But absolve and forgive; my many transgressions; as the Good and Lover-of-Mankind; Have mercy on us according to Your great mercy.”

Week 1

Week 1
Do Not Lay Up for yourselves treasures on Earth

Matthew 6: 19-30
Verse 19: “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal;
If someone does something with the intent of gaining earthly profit, that one‘s heart is upon the earth. How can a heart be clean while it is wallowing in the mud? On the other hand, if it be fastened upon heaven it will be clean, for whatever is heavenly is unpolluted. (Saint Augustine)

Question: How can our hearts be fastened to heaven? What prevents us from doing so? How can we practically overcome those barriers?

Verse 20-21: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Moreover, since we ought to fix our treasure and our heart on that which will abide forever and not on something which will pass away” (Saint Augustine)

Question: Why is it difficult for us to fix our eyes on what is unseen? What is needed to focus on the unseen?

Verse: 22-23 “The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light.23 But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
“Therefore in this passage we ought to understand the eye as the intention with which we perform all our actions. If this intention is pure and upright and directing its gaze where it ought to be directed, then unfailingly all our works are good works, because they are performed in accordance with that intention.”
(Saint Augustine)

Question: How can we have pure intentions in all our actions? How do we keep an upright gaze like Saint Paul says “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things” Colossians 3:2

Verse: 24-26 “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. 25 “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?
“He will be devoted to one and disregard the other. He does not say that one will hate the other, for scarcely anyone‘s conscience could hate God. But one disregards God that is to say, one does not fear God but presumes on his goodness. From this negligent and tormented confidence, the Holy Spirit recalls us when he says through the prophet: “Son, do not add sin to sin; and do not say, the mercy of God is great.” Note when Paul says, Do you not know that God‘s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?
(Saint Augustine)

Question: How do avoid a false confidence in being “good” and instead aim to become Godly? In this process, how do not take advantage of God’s infinite mercy as an excuse?

Verse: 27-30 And which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? 28 “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; 29 and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
“The force of the emphasis is on “you” to indicate covertly how great is the value set upon your personal existence and the concern God shows for you in particular. It is as though he were saying, “You,” to whom he gave a soul, for whom he fashioned a body, for whose sake he made everything in creation, for whose sake he sent prophets, and gave the law, and wrought those innumerable good works, and for whose sake he gave up his only begotten Son.”

“It is not until he has clearly revealed his affection that he proceeds also to reprove them, saying, “O you of little faith.” For this is the quality of a wise counselor. He balances counsel and reproof, that he may awaken persons all the more to the force of his words.” (St. John Chrysostom)

Question: Do we always keep in front of our eyes how God’s love is personal? How would that realization change our relationship with Him? When speaking with others, do we follow the example of Christ as a wise counselor?

Week 2

Week 2
Satan Tempts Jesus

Matthew 4:1-10
1 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. 3 Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.”

What does the devil first say? ―If you are Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread. The focus is not upon hunger but divine Sonship. Thinking to cheat him with supposed compliments, the devil suggested, ―If you are Son of God, remaining silent about his hunger in order that he not seem to allege that he indeed was hungry and not upbraiding him for it. For unaware of the greatness of the economy which was unfolding, he supposed hunger to be a reproach to him. So flattering him smoothly, he makes mention of his dignity only. How then did Christ respond to this? In order to put down the devil‘s pride and signify that there was nothing shameful in Jesus‘ hunger nor unbecoming to his wisdom, he brings forward precisely the point that the devil had passed over in silence to flatter him. Jesus said, ―Man shall not live by bread alone. (CHRYSOSTOM)

Question: In what other ways does the devil use flattery to cause temptations?

4 But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’

The Lord responded in this way, for it was his purpose to overcome the devil with humility and not with power. At the same time, it should be noted that unless the Lord had begun to fast, the devil would not have had an occasion, in accordance with the passage: ―My son, as you embark upon the service of God, prepare your soul for temptation. But the Savior‘s very response indicates that it was as man that he was tempted. So if anyone does not feed upon God‘s Word, that one will not live. (JEROME)

Question: How can you to respond to the temptations you face?

5 Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, 6 and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: ‘He shall give His angels charge over you,’ and, ‘In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.’” 7 Jesus said to him, “It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.’”

He is neither indignant nor provoked but with extreme gentleness reasons with him again from the Scriptures, teaching us that we must overcome the devil not by miracles but by forbearance and long suffering and that we should do nothing at all for display and vainglory. (CHRYSOSTOM)

Question: If Christ is so patient with the devil, the prince of evil, how can we not be even more patient with other children of God?

8 Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.” 10 Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.’”

By this effective response, the Lord gave us a decisive example. With human power having been disdained and with worldly ambition being held of little account, we also should remember that our Lord and God alone must be adored, especially when the devil‘s honor has become the common business of every age. After this flight of the devil, therefore, the angels ministered to Christ. With the devil overcome by the man, his head now being crushed, we now can see better the ministering service of the angels and the unfailing courtesies of the heavenly powers toward us. (HILARY)

Question: Satan is not the only other master that can distract us from Christ. What other masters do fall into temptation with, (i.e. television, money, gossip, etc)?

Week 3

Week 3
The Prodigal Son
Luke 15: 11-32

The Parable Calls the Pharisees to Rejoice Over the Repentance of Sinners.
“[Christ] clearly shows [the Pharisees] that the God of all requires even him who is thoroughly steadfast, firm, holy and has attained to the highest praise for sobriety of conduct to be earnest in following his will. When any are called to repentance, even if they have a bad reputation, he must rejoice rather and not give way to an unloving irritation because of them.” St. Cyril of Alexandria

Verses: 11-24
11 Then He said: “A certain man had two sons. 12 And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me.’ So he divided to them his livelihood. 13 And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, journeyed to a far country, and there wasted his possessions with prodigal living.

“So he divided to them his livelihood.”
“The son is as impatient as the father was kind. He is weary of his father’s own life. Since he cannot shorten his father’s life, he works to get possession of his property. He was not content to possess his father’s wealth in company with his father.”

Food for Thought: What reason brought the son to such actions? What bold prospect raised his spirits to make so startling a request? Let us contemplate on the kindness of our good Father and His abundant good works toward us and thank Him for his immeasurable mercy. For the spiritual person has thanksgiving and gratitude in all circumstances, in everything and for everything. This thanksgiving is rooted in the firm conviction of God’s merciful providence and care in all things, in the steadfast faith that “everything works together for good with those who love God.” (Romans 8:28).

14 But when he had spent all, there arose a severe famine in that land, and he began to be in want. 15 Then he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. 16 And he would gladly have filled his stomach with the pods that the swine ate, and no one gave him anything.
17 “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!

“But when he had spent all, there arose a severe famine in that land, and he began to be in want”
“It was not a famine of fasts, but a famine of good works and virtues…Certainly, whoever departs from the Word of God hungers, because ‘man lives not by bread alone but by every word of God.’ It was fitting that he began to be in need, because he abandoned the treasures of wisdom and knowledge of God and the depths of the heavenly riches. He who does not know how to be filled with eternal nourishment always suffers starvation.” St. Ambrose of Milan

Food for Thought: As we continue steadfastly fasting through the Great Lent, let us continually find eternal nourishment. Contemplate on what means of spiritual nourishment are guiding you to eternal nourishment with our Savior during this blessed time.

18 I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, 19 and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.”’
“Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.”

This is the first confession before the Creator of nature. Although God knows all things, He awaits the words of your confession.

Food for Thought: Repentance and Confession is essential in our life. It is the renewing of our baptism. Therefore, let us remember our sins and shortcomings before our Beloved, repent of them, and confess them so that we may return to the heavenly bosom of our Father.

20 “And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. 21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

Running, the Father Initiates the Reconciliation: “… his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him.”
“Rise and run to the church. Here is the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. He who hears you pondering in the secret places of the mind runs to you. When you are still far away, he sees you and runs to you. He sees in your heart. He runs, perhaps someone may hinder, and he embraces you. His foreknowledge is in the running, his mercy in the embrace and the disposition of fatherly love.” St. Ambrose of Milan

“He fell on his neck and kissed him.” This is how the father judges and corrects his wayward son and gives him not beatings, but kisses. The power of love overlooked the transgressions. The father redeemed the sins of his son by his kiss, and covered them by his embrace, in order not to expose the crimes or humiliate the son. The father so healed the son‘s wounds as not to leave a scar or blemish upon him. “Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered” (Romans 4:7).

Food for Thought: Our loving Redeemer is awaiting us and is endlessly searching for us. In what ways are we hindering our Lord’s search for us and how can we resolve that so we may return to His warm embrace?

22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring[b] out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. 23 And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; 24 for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ And they began to be merry.

Restoring Him to Sonship: “Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet.”
“The first robe is that of the honor that Adam has lost. As for the slaves who offered it, these are they who preach the reconciliation. The ring on the finger is the deposit ofthe Holy Spirit due to the partnership of grace, since the Spirit is adequately referred to by the finger. The sandals on the feet are the preparation for the gospel preaching so we do not touch what is earthly.” St. Augustine of Hippo

Food for Thought: Remember that we are truly sojourners in this life. Our citizenship is not of Earth, but of the Heavens. Look to the heavenly so that you may not fall to the earthly. Contemplate on the means for you to remember your true citizenship, which lies in the heavens.

Ancient Christian Commentary
Commentary of the Gospel of St. Luke by Fr. Tadros Malaty

Week 4

Week 4
Samaritan Woman
John 4:1-42

Verses: 1- 4
1 Therefore, when the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John 2 (though Jesus Himself did not baptize, but His disciples), 3 He left Judea and departed again to Galilee. 4 But He needed to go through Samaria.

Certainly, if the Pharisees’ knowledge that our Lord was making more disciples and baptizing more than John had been such as to lead them wholeheartedly to follow him and desire baptism by him, he would not have left Judea; rather, he would have remained for their sake. But seeing, as he did that this knowledge about him was coupled with envy, making them persecutors instead of followers, he left. He also could have stayed among them, if he had wanted to, and escaped their hands.… But he wanted to provide himself as an example for believers in time to come, that it was no sin for a servant of God to seek refuge from the fury of persecutors.… He did it like a good teacher, not out of fear for himself but for our instruction. (AUGUSTINE)

Food for thought: Do you use Christ’s example? What are times in your daily life that it is better to flee from persecutors for their benefit?

Verses: 5- 6
5 So He came to a city of Samaria which is called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. 6 Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied from His journey, sat thus by the well. It was about the sixth hour.

Could the power of God be exhausted? Certainly not. But he was wearied because he could not find the people faithful. Christ was wearied, then, because he recognized no virtue in his people. Today, too, our disobedience wearies him, as does also our weakness. For we are weak when we do not pursue the things that are strong and enduring but follow what is temporal and fleeting. (CAESARIUS OF ARLES)

Food for thought: Being weary is a human trait, but there are spiritual practices that can refresh and strengthen us. What practices can you add to your daily life that can help you fight weariness?

Verse: 7
7 A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give Me a drink.”

His ―drink was to do the will of him that sent him. That was why he said, ―I thirst; give me to drink, namely, to work faith in her and to drink of her faith and transplant her into his own body, for his body is the church. (AUGUSTINE)

Food for thought: Do you quench Christ’s thirst? Do you allow Christ to work His faith in you daily?

Verses: 8- 10
8 For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.
9 Then the woman of Samaria said to Him, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?” For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.
10 Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.”

AUGUSTINE: Is it shown in the sacred books that the Holy Spirit is called the ―gift of God? If people look for this too, we have in the Gospel according to John the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, who says, ―If anyone thirst, let him come to me and drink: he that believes on me, as the Scripture says, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. And the Evangelist has gone on further to add, ―And this he spoke of the Spirit, which they should receive who believe in him. And hence Paul the apostle also says, ―And we have all been made to drink into one Spirit. The question then is whether that water is called the gift of God, which is the Holy Spirit. But as we find here that this water is the Holy Spirit, so we find elsewhere in the Gospel itself that this water is called the gift of God. For when the same Lord was talking with the woman of Samaria at the well, to whom he had said, ―Give me to drink, and she had answered that the Jews ―have no dealings with the Samaritans, Jesus answered and said to her, ―If you had known the gift of God and who it is that says to you, Give me to drink,’ you would have asked of him, and he would have given you living water. … Because this living water, then, as the Evangelist has explained to us, is the Holy Spirit, without doubt the Spirit is the gift of God, of which the Lord says here, ―If you had known the gift of God, and who it is that says to you, Give me to drink,’ you would have asked of him, and he would have given you living water. For that which is in the one passage, ―Out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water, is in the other, ―shall be in him a fountain of water springing up to eternal life.

Food for thought: Do you ask God for His living water daily? Do you use it to it fullness?

Verses: 11- 20
11 The woman said to Him, “Sir, You have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. Where then do You get that living water? 12 Are You greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, as well as his sons and his livestock?”
13 Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”
15 The woman said to Him, “Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw.”
16 Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.”
17 The woman answered and said, “I have no husband.”
Jesus said to her, “You have well said, ‘I have no husband,’ 18 for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; in that you spoke truly.”
19 The woman said to Him, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.”

The woman is not offended at Christ’s rebuke. She does not leave him and go away—far from it. Her admiration for him is raised: ―The woman said to him, ‘Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet.’ … ―I perceive means ―You appear to me to be a prophet. And having come to this belief [that Jesus was a prophet], she does not ask any questions relating to life, health or sickness of the body.… She is not troubled about thirst; rather, she is eager to be taught. (CHRYSOSTOM)

Food for thought: How do you respond to God’s rebuking? Are you eager to be taught by Christ?

Verses: 21- 24
21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father.22 You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. 24 God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

To worship in the Spirit implies that our intelligence has been enlightened. Consider the words spoken to the Samaritan woman. She was deceived by local custom into believing that worship could only be offered in a specific place. But the Lord, attempting to correct her, said that worship ought to be offered in Spirit and in truth. By truth he clearly meant himself. If we say that worship offered in the Son (the truth) is worship offered in the Father’s image, we can say the same about worship offered in the Spirit since the Spirit in himself reveals the divinity of the Lord. The Holy Spirit cannot be divided from the Father and the Son in worship. If you remain outside the Spirit, you cannot worship at all, and if you are in him you cannot separate him from God. Light cannot be separated from what it makes visible, and it is impossible for you to recognize Christ, the image of the invisible God, unless the Spirit enlightens you. Once you see the image, you cannot ignore the light; you see the light and the image simultaneously. It is fitting that when we see Christ, the brightness of God’s glory, it is always through the illumination of the Spirit. Through Christ the image, may we be led to the Father, for he bears the seal of the Father’8s very likeness. (BASIL THE GREAT)

Food for thought: Do we make for ourselves false gods or husbands just like the Samaritan woman? When we confess are we honest of our confession or do we make excuses for our sin?

Verses: 25- 38
25 The woman said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When He comes, He will tell us all things.”26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am He.” 27 And at this point His disciples came, and they marveled that He talked with a woman; yet no one said, “What do You seek?” or, “Why are You talking with her?”28 The woman then left her waterpot, went her way into the city, and said to the men, 29 “Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?” 30 Then they went out of the city and came to Him.31 In the meantime His disciples urged Him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.”32 But He said to them, “I have food to eat of which you do not know.” 33 Therefore the disciples said to one another, “Has anyone brought Him anything to eat?”34 Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work. 35 Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest! 36 And he who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together. 37 For in this the saying is true: ‘One sows and another reaps.’ 38 I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored, and you have entered into their labors.”

He calls the salvation of men and women his food, showing his great desire that we should be saved. His desire for our salvation is as great as our desire for food. And see how often he does not express himself directly but figuratively. This necessarily makes it difficult for his hearers to comprehend his meaning, but it also gives a greater importance to that meaning once it is understood. (ST. JOHN CHRYSOSTOM)

Food for thought: Our faith quenches Christ’s thirst, and our salvation is His food. What does this truly mean to us?

Verses: 39- 42
39 And many of the Samaritans of that city believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, “He told me all that I ever did.”40 So when the Samaritans had come to Him, they urged Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days. 41 And many more believed because of His own word.
42 Then they said to the woman, “Now we believe, not because of what you said, for we ourselves have heard Him and we know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world.”

The Samaritans ask Jesus to remain with them, which he does, remaining not only for them but for all who ask (ORIGEN). The Evangelist does not relate what Jesus told them while he was with them, which often seems to be the case when the results are positive, as they were here when we are told that practically the whole city was convinced by his words (CHRYSOSTOM). The people then dismiss their first instructor in favor of getting instruction directly from the source (ORIGEN, CHRYSOSTOM).

Food for thought: Do we often focus on Gods plan for our life or are we blinded by situations like the disciples?
We must hunger and thirst for Salvation of which if we attain we will never hunger or thirst again.

Week 5

Week 5
Healing The Paralytic Man
John 5: 1-18

Verses 1-3: After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew, Bethesda, having five porches. In these lay a great multitude of sick people, blind, lame, paralyzed, waiting for the moving of the water.

“A baptism was about to be given that possessed much power. It was the greatest of gifts, a baptism purging all sins and making people alive instead of dead. These things then are foreshown as in a picture by the pool. This miracle was done so that those [at the pool] who had learned over and over for such a long time how it is possible to heal the diseases of the body by water might more easily believe that water can also heal the diseases of the soul (ST. JOHN CHRYSOSTOM).

Food for thought: What spiritual sickness in your life is stunting your growth with God? How can we practically renew our baptism daily?

Verse 4-5: For an angel went down at a certain time into the pool and stirred up the water; then whoever stepped in first, after the stirring of the water, was made well of whatever disease he had. Now a certain man was there who had an infirmity thirty-eight years.

“Let us be ashamed then, beloved, let us be ashamed and groan over our excessive laziness. That man had been waiting thirty-eight years without obtaining what he desired, and he still did not withdraw. We … might persist in prayer for something for ten days or so, and if we have not obtained it, we are too lazy afterwards to employ the same energy [as he did] (ST. JOHN CHRYSOSTOM).”

Food for thought: In what ways can we make ourselves aware of our spiritual laziness? How can we overcome our laziness to follow the words of Christ: “Men always ought to pray and not lose heart? (Luke 18:1)

Verse 6: When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, “Do you want to be made well?”

“There is clear evidence of the great goodness of Christ in that He does not wait for entreaties from the sick but anticipates their request with His own loving kindness. See how He runs to the one who is lying down and how compassionate He is to one who was sick with no one to comfort him.” (ST. CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA)

Food for thought: Do I imitate Christ by anticipating the needs of those around me, and by helping them accordingly? Or do my own needs come before others?

Verse 7: The sick man answered Him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; but while I am coming, another steps down before me.”

“That can be more pitiable than these words? What sadder than these circumstances? Do you see a heart crushed through an extended illness? (ST. JOHN CHRYSOSTOM)

Food for thought: Are you the One for the man who has no one?

Verse 8: Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your bed and walk.”

What does this mean, ―take up your bed except carry and govern your body? Conduct that which carried you. For when you were under the dominion of sin your flesh first carried you to evil, but now since grace is in control you conduct and direct your body to what is good… Rise, take up your bed, and go into your house. When you were thrown out of your house, that is, out of the land of paradise at the intervention of sin, your flesh hurled you down into the world… From it [eternal life] we were thrown into the exile of this world. Therefore, when you hear it said to the paralytic, ―take up your bed, and go into your house, believe that it is said to you: govern your flesh in all chastity and return to paradise, as if to your own home and your original country. (ST. CAESARIUS OF ARLES)

Food for thought: “Conduct that which carried you.” Just as Christ told the paralytic man to take up his bed, how do we direct our lives to walk spiritually and not according to the desires of the flesh?

Verse 9: And immediately the man was made well, took up his bed, and walked. And that day was the Sabbath.

“Take up, therefore, ―your bed. But when you have taken it up, do not stay; ―walk. In loving your neighbor, in being concerned about your neighbor, you are taking a trip. Where are you taking a trip to except to the Lord God, to him whom we ought to love with all our heart, with all our soul, with our entire mind? For, we have not yet reached the Lord, but we have our neighbor with us. Therefore carry him with whom you are walking that you may reach him with whom you long to stay. Therefore take up your bed, and walk.” (ST. AUGUSTINE)

Food For thought: On our journey to heaven, do we fulfill Gods command to bear and carry one another’s burdens?

Verse 10-13: The Jews therefore said to him who was cured, “It is the Sabbath; it is not lawful for you to carry your bed.” He answered them, “He who made me well said to me, ‘Take up your bed and walk.’ Then they asked him, “Who is the Man who said to you, ‘Take up your bed and walk?’ But the one who was healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, a multitude being in that place.”

“The healed one did not know who it was who healed him because Jesus hid as soon as he had healed him. It would have been typical of someone looking for glory if he had stayed around with the one whom he had healed. It would have been typical of someone who desired public exposure. But we see our Lord cautiously avoiding this. In fact, it would have been easier to have himself seen as God. Since, however, he appeared as a man and many had this opinion about him, he protected himself from the opinion of those who saw him. (THEODORE OF MOPSUESTIA).

Food for thought: Do we do good deeds for our own glory? Or for God’s glory?

Verse 14-15: Afterward Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, “See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you.” The man departed and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well.

“Yesterday you were flung upon a bed, exhausted and paralyzed, and you had no one to put you into the pool when the water should be troubled. Today you have him who is in one person man and God, or rather God and man. You were raised up from your bed, or rather you took up your bed and publicly acknowledged the benefit. Do not again be thrown on your bed by sinning…. But as you now are, so walk, mindful of the command…. Sin no more lest a worse thing happen to you if you prove yourself to be evil after the blessing you have received.” (GREGORY OF NAZIANZUS)

Food for thought: After receiving healing, forgiveness, and blessing from God- what is our reaction? Do we return to our former ways or walk in His light?

Verse 16-18: And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him, because he had done these things on the Sabbath day. But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work. Therefore, the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the Sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.

Here he has already indicated that he is equal to God. “My Father,” he says, “is working until now, and I too am working.” Their literal-minded understanding of the sabbath is disturbed. They imagined that it was because the Lord was tired that he rested, in order to do no more work. They hear, “My Father is working until now,” and they are disturbed. But then he adds, “And I too am working,” making himself equal to God, and again they are disturbed. (St. AUGUSTINE)

Food for thought: Jesus continues to show that Father’s mercy and love and mercy never ceases, even on the Sabbath, and when they charged that Jesus was making himself equal with God, he replied that he was not acting independently of God because his relationship is that of a Father and Son relationship.

Week 6

Week 6
The Miracle of the Man Born
John 9:1-41

Verses: 1-2
“Now as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, saying, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?'”

WHY THE DISCIPLES ASK. Chrysostom: They were led to ask this question because our Lord had said above, when he healed the paralytic, “See, you are well! Sin no more.” Thinking from this that the man had been paralyzed because of his sins, they say, “That other person was paralyzed because of his sins, but what would you say about this man? Had he sinned? How can you say that, since he was blind from birth? Have his parents sinned? Neither can one say this because the child does not suffer punishment because of his parents.” The same way we ask how it can be when we see a child suffering, this is how the disciples spoke here, not so much asking for information as being perplexed.

Verse: 3
Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him.”

HE NEVER SINNED? AUGUSTINE: Was he then born without original sin, or had he committed no sin in the course of his lifetime? . . . Both this man and his parents had sinned . . . but that sin itself was not the reason why he was born blind. . .. Our Lord gives the reason why . . . “That the works of God should be made known in him.”

Verses: 4-7
“I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” When He had said these things, He spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva; and He anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay”. “And He said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which is translated, Sent). So he went and washed, and came back seeing.”

CHRIST AND THE FATHER’S WORK IS THE SAME. CHRYSOSTOM: He says here, “I must reveal myself and do those things that may show that I do the same things with the Father”—not things “similar” but “the same.” This is an expression that marks greater invariability and that is used of those who do not differ even a little. Who then, after this, will face him when he sees that he had the same power with the Father? For not only did he form or open eyes; he also gave the gift of sight. This is proof that he also breathed in the soul. If that [soul] did not work, the eye, though perfected, could never see anything. He gave both the energy,14 which is from the soul, and gave the member also, possessing all things, both arteries and nerves and veins, and all things of which our body is composed.

ANOINTING OF THE EYES WITH CLAY. ORIGEN: I think this has been said to establish that Christ’s saliva had a quality of healing power. Even though the blind man did not himself ask to receive his sight, yet he will be found praiseworthy in delivering himself to Jesus anointing his eyes with clay and in doing without hesitation what had been enjoined him, without Jesus having even said that he would receive sight. . . . Let us therefore wash off the clay smeared in our eyes in the water of the pool of him [i.e., Jesus] who has been sent so that after this we may be able to see again. But you will understand by the clay the beginning of the rudiments of the oracles of God, according to which we as babies are fed with milk. But when the childish things are done away with and we eat solid food, we wipe away the clay so that we may return to Jesus as one who sees.

HEALING DOES NOT OCCUR IN JESUS’ PRESENCE. Origen; But to heal in his absence, to tell him to go away and wash and to provide the healing only once he has washed—this was the work of someone who wanted to be sure that no one would be ignorant of the miracle that had taken place. For as he commanded the paralytic to take up his bed on the day when it was not lawful to do this—so that each man charging him with the transgression might learn the greatness of the miracle—in the same way he commanded this man who was at a distance from the pool to go there and wash.

Verses: 8-10
“Therefore the neighbors and those who previously had seen that he was blind said, “Is not this he who sat and begged?” Some said, “This is he.” Others said, “He is like him.” He said, “I am he.” Therefore, they said to him, “How were your eyes opened?””

JESUS EVEN HEALS BEGGARS. Chrysostom: The strangeness of the miracle made people incredulous. The neighbors and those who had seen that he was blind said, “Is this now the man who used to sit and beg?” What wonderful clemency and condescension of God! With such great kindness he even heals the beggars. In this way he shuts up the mouths of the Jews, because he made, not the great, illustrious and noble, but the poorest and meanest, the objects of his providence. Indeed, he had come for the salvation of all.
…Why didn’t he have him wash immediately instead of sending him to Siloam?… For one thing, everyone would probably see him as he was leaving, having the clay spread upon his eyes. The strangeness of this spectacle would most likely focus the attention of everyone on him—both those who knew him and those who did not—everyone would be watching him closely. And, because it is not easy to recognize a blind man who has recovered his sight,
Jesus first of all sends him this long distance so that he can be seen by many witnesses. This bizarre spectacle of a man walking with mud on his eyes would make these witnesses even more attentive so that no one could any longer say, “This is not he.”

THE BLIND LEADING THE BLIND TO SEE. Ephraim the Syrian: Those whose [eyes] were outwardly open were being led on by the blind man, who was able to see inwardly. For the blind man was being led on in a hidden way by those whose [eyes] were open but who were inwardly blind. The [blind man] washed the clay from his eyes and saw himself. These others washed their blindness from their hearts and were approved. When our Lord opened [the eyes of] one blind man publicly on that occasion, he opened [the eyes of] many blind people secretly. For that blind man was [indeed] blind. He was like a source of gain for our Lord, since he gained many blind people through him, [healing them] from blindness of heart.

Verses: 11-12
“He answered and said, “A Man called Jesus made clay and anointed my eyes and said to me, ‘Go to the pool of Siloam and wash.’ So I went and washed, and I received sight.” Then they said to him, “Where is He?” He said, “I do not know.””

THE MIRACLE DESCRIBED FROM THE BLIND MAN’S PERSPECTIVE. Chrysostom: Notice how precise he is. He does not say how the clay was made since he could not see that our Lord spat on the ground. He does not say what he does not know. He did not see Jesus spit on the ground, but he could feel it when he spread the mud on his eyes, “And he said to me, ‘Go to the pool of Siloam, and wash. ‘”This too he could mention because he heard it. For he had heard our Lord in conversation with his disciples and so he knew his voice. Even after all this, however, he cannot tell how he was cured. Now if faith is needed in matters that are felt and handled by the senses, how much more in the case of what is invisible?

“They brought him who formerly was blind to the Pharisees. Now it was a Sabbath when Jesus made the clay and opened his eyes. Then the Pharisees also asked him again how he had received his sight. He said to them, “He put clay on my eyes, and I washed, and I see.” Therefore, some of the Pharisees said, “This Man is not from God, because He does not keep the Sabbath.” Others said, “How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?” And there was a division among them.”

WHAT ABOUT THE MIRACLE ITSELF? Chrysostom: Passing over the miracle in silence, they give all the prominence they can to the supposed transgression. They do not charge him with “healing on the Sabbath day” but with not “keeping the Sabbath.” “Others replied rather weakly, ‘How can a man who is a sinner do such miracles? “‘They were impressed by his miracles, but only in a weak and unsettled way. For whereas the fact of whether the Sabbath was broken or not might have divided them, they still had no idea yet that he was God. They did not know that it was the Lord of the Sabbath who had worked the miracle. Nor did any of them dare to say openly what his sentiments were, but they spoke ambiguously—one, because he thought the fact itself improbable, another, from his love of status. It follows, “And there was a division among them.” That is, the people were divided first, and then the rulers

“They said to the blind man again, “What do you say about Him because He opened your eyes?” He said, “He is a prophet.” But the Jews did not believe concerning him, that he had been blind and received his sight, until they called the parents of him who had received his sight. And they asked them, saying, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?” His parents answered them and said, “We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; but by what means he now sees we do not know, or who opened his eyes we do not know. He is of age; ask him. He will speak for himself.””

THE PARENTS EXPOSE THEIR SON TO POSSIBLE HARM. Origen: Besides having spoken falsely, they committed another sin by exposing their son to obvious harm. But I think this also has a reason. When the Savior opened the eyes of the blind man, he did not open those of a child but of one full grown so that he might see as a full-grown man. But such was also the case with other blind men who received sight. However, it is true that he being of full age can speak for himself, and especially so when Jesus makes him receive his sight. For he needs no one else to negotiate for him.

Verses: 22-24
“His parents said these things because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had agreed already that if anyone confessed that He was Christ, he would be put out of the synagogue. Therefore, his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.” So they again called the man who was blind, and said to him, “Give God the glory! We know that this Man is a sinner.””

UNDER THE GUISE OF RELIGION. Chrysostom: The parents referred the Pharisees to the healed man himself, and so they summon him a second time. They do not openly say now, “Deny that Christ has healed you.” Instead they conceal their objective under the pretense of religion…. They say, “Give God the glory,” that is, confess that this man Jesus has had nothing to do with the work.

Verses: 25-27
“He answered and said, “Whether He is a sinner or not I do not know. One thing I know: that though I was blind, now I see.” Then they said to him again, “What did He do to you? How did He open your eyes?” He answered them, “I told you already, and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become His disciples?””

THE BOLDNESS OF FAITH. Chrysostom: Do you see how boldly the beggar speaks with the scribes and Pharisees? It shows how strong truth is and how weak falsehood is. Truth, though it grasps only ordinary people, makes them to appear glorious; falsehood, even when it is among the strong, shows them to be weak. What he says is like this: you do not pay attention to my words; therefore, I will no longer speak or answer you when you question me continually to no purpose. You do not want to hear in order to learn but so that you can lay insults over my words.

Verses: 28-32
“Then they reviled him and said, “You are His disciple, but we are Moses’ disciples. We know that God spoke to Moses; as for this fellow, we do not know where He is from.” The man answered and said to them, “Why, this is a marvelous thing, that you do not know where He is from; yet He has opened my eyes! Now we know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does His will, He hears him. Since the world began it has been unheard of that anyone opened the eyes of one who was born blind.”

A COMPLIMENT, BUT NOT INTENTIONAL. AUGUSTINE: May such an “evil thing” be said of us and on our children! In other words, it was an evil thing [to say he was a disciple] from their point of view, but not if you think about the words themselves. They say, “But we are disciples of Moses. We know that God spoke to Moses. But we have no idea where this person comes from.” But if you [Pharisees] knew that God spoke to Moses, then you should have also known that God preached about our Lord through Moses after hearing what he said, “If you had believed Moses, you would have believed me, for he wrote of me.” Do you then follow a servant and turn your back on the Lord? But you do not even follow the servant, for he would guide you to the Lord.

THE MIRACLE IS INCONTROVERTIBLE EVIDENCE. Chrysostom: He brings in the miracle everywhere as evidence because they could not invalidate it. And he draws his own inferences from it too. First, he says, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I do not know.” He has no doubt that Jesus was not a sinner. And so, when he has an opportunity, he turns their own words against them and defends Jesus: “Now we know that God does not listen to sinners.”

Verses: 33-34
“If this Man were not from God, He could do nothing.” They answered and said to him, “You were completely born in sins, and are you teaching us?” And they cast him out.”

THE INSIGHT OF FAITH. Cyril of Alexandria: He who had just received sight and had been miraculously freed from his old blindness was quicker to perceive truth than those who had been instructed by the law. See how through numerous and wise arguments he demonstrates the utter inferiority of the Pharisees’ opinion.

Verse: 35
“Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when He had found him, He said to him, “Do you believe in the Son of God?””

CHRIST ELICITS A CONFESSION OF FAITH. Hilary of Poitiers: When the man was already healed and had suffered rejection from the synagogue, the Lord put to him the question, “Do you believe on the Son of God?” This was to save him from the thought that he had lost everything by being excluded from the synagogue. It gave him the certainty that confession of the true faith had restored him to immortality. When the man, his soul still unenlightened, answered, “Who is he, Lord, that I may believe on him?” the Lord’s reply was, “You have both seen him, and it is he that speaks with you.” For his goal was to remove the ignorance of the man whose sight he had restored and whom he was now enriching with the knowledge of so glorious a faith. Does the Lord demand from this man, as from others who entreated him to heal them, a confession of faith as the price of their recovery? Emphatically not! For the blind man could already see when he was thus addressed. The Lord asked the question in order to receive the answer, “Lord, I believe.” The faith that spoke in that answer was to receive not sight but life.

Verses: 36-38
“He answered and said, “Who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him?” And Jesus said to him, “You have both seen Him and it is He who is talking with you.” Then he said, “Lord, I believe!” And he worshiped Him.”

HE RECOGNIZES THE VOICE. Theodore of Mopsuestia: The blind man, recognizing his voice—remember he had not seen him yet—said, “And who is he, sir? Tell me, so that I may believe in him.” With good reason he thought that he who had given him sight even though he was beyond hope could also show him the Son of God.

WORSHIP FOLLOWS FAITH. Basil the Great: Worship follows faith, and faith is confirmed by power. But if you say that believers also know, they know from what they believe; and vice versa, they believe from what they know. We know God from his power. We, therefore, believe in him who is known, and we worship him who is believed.

Verses: 39-41
“And Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may be made blind.” Then some of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these words, and said to Him, “Are we blind also?” Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you say, ‘We see.’ Therefore, your sin remains.”

TWO RECOVERIES OF SIGHT, TWO TYPES OF BLINDNESS. Chrysostom: In this passage he speaks of two recoveries of sight and of two types of blindness: one sensory and the other spiritual. … But they were intent only on the sensory things and were ashamed only of sensory blindness. And so, in order to show them that it would be better for them to be blind than seeing as they do, he says, “If you were blind, you would have no sin,” … your punishment would be more tolerable. … “But now you say ‘We see,'” but you do not see at all. He shows that what they considered as so great and praiseworthy actually brought them punishment instead. At the same time, he also consoles him who was blind from his birth concerning his former maimed state. And then he speaks concerning their blindness. For he directs his whole speech toward this purpose, that is, so that they cannot say, “We did not refuse to come to you because of our blindness, but we turn away and avoid you as a deceiver.” And there is also a reason the Evangelist adds, “And some of the Pharisees who were with him heard these words.” He wants to remind us that those were the very persons who had first withstood Christ and then wished to stone him. For there were some who only followed in appearance and were easily changed to the contrary opinion.

Week 7

Week 7
Triumph Entry into Jerusalem
Hosanna Sunday
Mark 11:1-11

Mark 11:1-3
Now when they drew near Jerusalem, to Bethphage and Bethany, at the Mount of Olives, He sent two of His disciples; and He said to them, “Go into the village opposite you; and as soon as you have entered it you will find a colt tied, on which no one has sat. Loose it and bring it. And if anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord has need of it,’ and immediately he will send it here.”

“Go into the Village”
Note that the place where the colt was found tied was a village, and a village without a name, for in comparison with the great world in heaven, the whole earth is a village. (ORIGEN)
“Find a Colt”
It was foretold expressly that he would sit upon a foal of a colt and enter Jerusalem. (JUSTIN MARTYR)
“On Which No One Has Ever Sat”
Here he seems to be hinting at the circumstance of those who afterwards would come to believe but who as yet had never sat under the authority of the Word prior to Jesus’ coming. (ORIGEN)
“Loose it”
Some interpret the tied-up colt as a reference to believers who come from circumcision. They were being freed from many bonds by those who instructed them in the word. (ORIGEN)

Food for thought: How has the Word of God freed you from the bondage of sin?

Mark 11:4-6
So they went their way, and found the colt tied by the door outside on the street, and they loosed it. But some of those who stood there said to them, “What are you doing, loosing the colt?” And they spoke to them just as Jesus had commanded. So they let them go.

“They Found a Colt Tied at the Door”
The prophecy, “binding the foal to the vine, and washing his robe in the blood of the grape,” contained symbols of the things that were to happen to Christ, and of what he was to do. For the foal of a colt stood bound to a vine at the entrance of a village, and he ordered his disciples to bring it to him then. When it was rebought, he mounted and sat upon it, and rode into Jerusalem, where the stately temple of the Jews was which you [Romans] have razed to the ground. After this he was crucified, in order that the rest of the prophecy be verified. For the words “washing his robe in the blood of the grape,” prefigured the passion he was to undergo, purifying with his blood those who believe in him. (JUSTIN MARTYR)

Food for thought: Have you ever doubted God’s will for you? The disciples obeyed Jesus’s commands instantly and thus had no issue retrieving the colt. Do you listen to God’s commands as strictly and without question, just like the disciples had?

Mark 11:7
Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their clothes on it, and He sat on it.

“They Brought the Colt to Jesus and He Sat upon It”
The master of humility is Christ who humbled himself and became obedient even to death, even the death of the cross. Thus he does not lose his divinity when he teaches us humility… What great thing was it to the king of the ages to become the king of humanity? For Christ was not the king of Israel so that he might exact a tax or equip an army with weaponry and visibly vanquish an enemy. He was the king of Israel in that he rules minds, in that he gives counsel for eternity, in that he leads into the kingdom of heaven for those who believe, hope, and love. It is a condescension, not an advancement, for one who is the Son of God, equal to the Father, the Word through whom all things were made, to become king of Israel. It is an indication of pity, not an increase of power. (AUGUSTINE)

Food for thought: In what ways can we learn humility from God?

Mark 11:8
And many spread their clothes on the road, and others cut down leafy branches from the trees and spread them on the road.

“Many Spread Their Garments on the Road”
Instead of our garments, let us spread our hearts before him. (METHODIUS)

“Others Spread Leafy Branches”
And others cut boughs… and strewed them in the way. They cut branches from the fruitbearing trees with which the Mount of Olives was planted, and spread them in the way; so as to make the crooked ways straight, and the rough ways smooth, that Christ the conqueror of sin might walk straightly and safely into the hearts of the faithful… And when they had done all that was to be done by their hands, they offered also the tribute of their voices; and going before and following after the cry, not in a brief and wordless confession, but with all their might: “Hosanna to the son of David. Blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord.” (JEROME)

Food for thought: As the people spread their clothes on the road and others planted leafy branches down for Christ to enter Jerusalem, what can we do to make Christ’s entrance into our hearts easier?

Mark 11:9-11
Then those who went before and those who followed cried out, saying:
‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’
Blessed is the kingdom of our father David
That comes in the name of the Lord!
Hosanna in the highest!”

And Jesus went into Jerusalem and into the temple. So when He had looked around at all things, as the hour was already late, He went out to Bethany with the twelve.

The boys in the Gospel raised aloft their branches as the Savior entered Jerusalem. They kept on crying: “Hosanna.” …They borrowed these versicles from Psalm 117. Hosanna, moreover, is the Hebrew for “O Lord, grant salvation!” (JEROME)

“Hosanna,” However, is a word of supplicating, as some say who know the Hebrew language, more declaring a feeling than signifying something. Just as in the Latin language there are words which we call interjections, as when in sorrow we say, Heu! Or when we are delighted, we say, Vah! Or when we are amazed, we say, “Oh, what a great thing!” For then oh signifies nothing except the feeling of one who is amazed. (AUGUSTINE)

Food for thought: Do you always great God with the same type of amazement and excitement as the people in Jerusalem? What can you do to make your spiritual life more joyful and rejoicing?