Almsgiving: Medicine for the Soul and the Right of the Poor (Fri. March 19)

The word of the day is “give.”  We naturally think that our possessions are ours to do with as we choose.  Accordingly, if we should give some of them to those in need, well, that is our choice.  If not, that is our right as well.  But in today’s reading of Proverbs 3:19-34, we discover a striking insight.  The writer of Proverbs teaches, “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is the power of your hand to do so” (vs. 27).  Today we will draw out the meaning of this wisdom for our stewardship of what we possess. On first reading, this verse sounds like the commonplace advice that we should pay our debts…

On Trusting the Lord and Relying on His Wisdom (Thurs. March 18)

The word of the day is “trust .”  Our society values self-reliance.  We teach that maturity means that we no longer depend on others for direction or support.  When we are fully grown, we should take our own  path in life.  However, our reading of Proverbs 3:1-18 teaches us the opposite.  The wise teacher of Proverbs says, “Trust the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight (OAB vs. 5).  Today we will consider what it means to trust the Lord for wisdom.  We will also find that reliance on God’s wisdom should apply to everything we do. Our key verse (vs. 5) is a favorite of many.  It is  worth memorizing so that we…

Four Things Necessary for Seeking Wisdom (Wed. March 17)

The word of the day is “seek .”  We would like to think that gaining spiritual understanding comes from the sudden unveiling of a revelation, a quick flash of insight.  But our reading of Provers 2:1-22 teaches us we must search diligently for wisdom.  And it assures us that this earnest search will be rewarded.  Solomon writes, “If you seek perception with a strong voice, and if you seek her as silver and search for her as treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God” (OSB vs. 4-5).  What, then,  is necessary for our search? Knowing What We Seek When we search for something, we need to know what we are looking…

Three Ways of Closing Our Ears to Wisdom and How to Open Them (Tues. March 16)

The word of the day is “reject.”  Many think that the ways of God are hidden and only known to a select few who have the time and resources to probe into them.  However, in our reading of Proverbs 1:20-33, we hear Wisdom herself speaking in urgent cries in every public place.  Thus, we read, “Wisdom sings in the streets.  She moves boldly in the squares.  She preaches on high city walls.  And sits at the gates of lords.  At the gates of a city, she boldly says…” (vs. 20-21).  But do we hear her when she calls to us?  Today’s reading describes several ways of closing our ears to the teaching of Wisdom and the corresponding ways of opening…

The Wisdom of Proverbs in Hebrew and Greek (LXX) Texts (Mon. March 15)

The word of the day is “wisdom”  As we begin the Lenten fast in the Orthodox Church, we turn to the books of Genesis and Proverbs for our daily readings.  As we seek to return to the Lord and His ways, the Book of Proverbs offers us practical wisdom to guide us.  In today’s reading of Proverbs 1:1-20,  we hear, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and there is a good understanding in all who practice it (OSB Proverbs 1:7 from the Septuagint).  This principal maxim is the foundation of the book of Proverbs and is the key to understanding the counsel that the Church provides for the 40 days of Lent. The Orthodox Church uses…

The Armor Needed for Spiritual Struggle (Sun. March 14)

The word of the day is “armor.”  In our reading of Romans 13:11-14  today, St. Paul announces that the Day of Christ’s return is “at hand” (vs. 12).  When that time comes, we will be clothed with the white robe of victory.  We will stand before the Throne of God and glorify the God of salvation (Revelation 7:9).  But though it is near, that glorious moment has not arrived.   Paul says that we must put on the armor of conflict in place of the white robe of triumph.  He writes, “The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore, let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light” (vs. 12).  Today we…

Tending to What God Has Established in Us (Sat. March 13)

The word of the day is “established.”  Recall the Parable of the Sowing of the Seed.  Especially, call to mind the seed that fell on rocky ground.  It sprang up energetically but soon withered in the blazing sun.  It did so because its roots had no depth.  We can say that it was not “established” in the Word of God.  In our reading of Romans 14:19-23 and 16:25-27, St. Paul concludes His epistle with a benediction.  He writes, “May He who is able to establish you according to my Gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ…be glory through Jesus Christ, forever” (vs. 25).  Today we focus on how God establishes us in the faith and life of Christ and how…

The Doors of Mercy Now Opened Wide (Fri. March 12)

The word of the day is “purpose.”  Today, like Wednesday, there is no Liturgy, Epistle, or Gospel today.  Rather, we read a passage from Zechariah, the prophet.  The core of the reading from Zechariah 8:7-17 is the promise of verses 14-15: “As I purposed to afflict you when your fathers provoked me to anger, says the Lord Almighty, and I did not relent, so now in these days I have prepared and purposed to do good to Jerusalem…” (vs. 14-15).  Today we apply this assurance to ourselves and the impending season of prayer and fasting. We often think that Great Lent is a time of the sorrow for our sins and the dread of the judgment of God.  Who would…

How to Keep from Spiritual Stumbling (Thurs. March 11)

The word of the day is “stumble.”  As we begin our Lenten journey, we know our sins and failings that need forgiveness and healing.  But as we set out toward the goal of returning to the Lord,  we are aware of the spiritual dangers and difficulties ahead.  Therefore, we need to look to the God of grace to protect us from falling into the traps of the Evil One.  In this respect, the teachings of today’s reading of Jude 1:11-25 are helpful.  For instance, Jude 1:24  speaks about “Him who is able to keep you from stumbling…” (vs. 24). Our reading suggests that we treat this thought as an assurance that the Lord will protect us from faltering as we…

Turn to the Lord with All Your Heart (Wed. March 10)

The word of the day is “turn,”  Today we observe a “little Lent” before Great Lent.  No liturgy is celebrated today, and there is no Gospel or Epistle reading.   Rather, in our reading of Joel 2:12-26, we hear the urgent cry, “Turn  to me with all your heart with fasting and wailing and with mourning…” ( vs. 12).  Our reading admonishes us to take the upcoming Lenten season with ultimate seriousness.  There is no time to delay.  There is no more room for spiritual laxity.  The prophet announces the time of grace and judgment has come upon us. Today our reading goes back to the 700 years before Christ.  The People of God are facing two catastrophes, a plague of…