The start of the Holy Lent is a move towards the heavenly Father, and surrendering the whole life between His hands. It is to feel His merciful embrace, to enjoy the warmth of His Devin love during prayer, during holy contemplation, and to live with Him in all our work and activity during lent.
During the first week: All the readings during the liturgies concentrate around the subject of the fatherhood of God towards us. During those weeks we want to feel His abundant sympathy for us, His fostering us as sons, and our stature as His sons. So we can call the first week as the week of our Father in heaven.
The second week: Is the week in which the Sunday Bible starts with the expression of a comforting dialog from the Father to the souls of His sons. It is the shield from the fears of the world. So the first feeling of comfort within, while we are in the bosom of the Father, is the feeling of peace and complete comfort, as a child in his father’s bosom. The first word we hear from the Father while we are in His bosom is, “Do not worry about tomorrow … sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” (Matt.6:34).
Therefore today’s Bible talks about the Father’s concern about us and our future. He warns us from the invasion of the world’s worry that might penetrate our interior. So He directs our view towards heaven, when we hear Him say, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth nor rust destroys and where thieves break in and steal…” (Matt.6:19). This is as if the Father is telling us, ‘My children why are you living under threat of fear from the moth, the rust and the thieves?’
The reason behind the psychological disturbances, the worry, fear of the future, and the non-existence of the peace at heart… You feel all these because of the presence of earthly treasures, and the concern about earthly matters. Don’t you know that all the earthly treasures, riches, and honors, even if it reaches grandeur, it is still liable to rot, to be subjected to the moth, to rust and to the thieves? But it is as the Holy Spirit expressed it, ‘Yes the wise Solomon, vanity of vanities and the grasping of wind.’
Save for yourselves treasures in heaven
Do you have a treasure in heaven…? Understanding this in simple terms, are you busy with heaven? Where is your heart? Where your treasure is, your heart is also there. Let there be friends for us in heaven, so that if we leave this world, they would welcome us in the comfort of eternity.
God and money
Money in itself is not a sin. But on the contrary, money is a blessing and a good gift. All the danger that is generated is from the love of money. The love of money is the origin of all evil. The love of money destroys faith. It cancels the dependence on God and affects the worship within its core. If some kept it (love of money), they wonder off the path of faith as if they are stabbing themselves and subjecting themselves to lots of pains. That is why our blessed Jesus, in the beginning of lent, He asks me about the genuity of my heart. I wonder what subject might always occupy your concern…. That will consume all your thoughts and your heart? No one could worship two masters, God and money.
Therefore fasting is the subject of vision that clarifies the target… We stumbled enough between the two targets, which blurred our important target… Come on brethren let us seek our heavenly desire and our eternal life. There must not be anything existing that will consume our time and separate us from our eternal life, our love for Jesus. What will man achieve if he gains the whole world but loses himself?
The money worshipers
There are lots of examples written for us, look at Lot’s wife… She left with those leaving Sodom, but her heart was still in Sodom. Her treasure was in the sand of the earth… She became an example for those who desire eternal life, but were occupied with the earthly treasures.
Contemplate about the foolish rich man who was depending on his wealth. For if someone is very rich, his life is not generated from his wealth. Don’t depend on the unwise rich, but depend on the arm of God.
Contemplate about Ananias and his wife Sapphira, who reflected a fearsome example for the church. They both wanted a portion from their donation, and their love for money, made them lie to the Holy Spirit. Therefore their judgement was swift, Acts (5:1-11). Contemplate about the rich young man, how the love of money prevented him from following Jesus, and he sadly left, for he was very wealthy…. He held to his money and refused the eternal life. Look how the love of the world and the love of money divert the heart away from God, and the grace of being with God.
Contemplate about those whom Peter the apostle mentioned in good, but now he mentions them, with tears in his eyes, for they loved the present world, and the riches of this generation, for they became the enemy of the cross of Jesus… That is why Peter the Apostle said, “… If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world-the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life-is not of the Father but is of the world.” (1 John 2:15, 16).
Ask our father Abraham, who was very rich, but he used to raise his face to the heavens, to see the eternal inheritance, and the city with foundations. He considered himself as a stranger, a visitor, sand and ashes.
Ask David the prophet, why he was not occupied by the agonies of ruling, or the worries of wealth, which could have kept him away from the partnership with the One he loved. He was asking and reaching to live in the Lord’s house and the habitation of His holy altar (Ps. 26). His heart was void from the love of money. He stood before the Lord as poor and humble (Ps. 24).
As the pure apostles, who left everything and considered it nothing, just to achieve the grace of knowing Jesus. They were like poor individuals, without materialistic possessions, but they owned everything with Jesus.
Ask Saint Antonios, who sold 300 acres, gave the money to the poor, and followed the Lord… Was he in need of anything all the days of his life, until he was 105 years of age? Now we surely know that the heart is where the treasure is…. And the treasure is always our concern.
Do not concern yourselves
Finally the Lord transports us from our concern of defiles, to the concern with the eternal life. For whoever is concerned with his own well being, could not even extend his existence beyond its limitations. For you don’t know what is in for tomorrow. For what is our lives but a momentarily vapor. The presence of concern and worry in our lives mean that there is no faith, no dependence and no enjoyment of the Father’s bosom. For if we were enjoying the fatherhood of God, we would have been living in peace and joy, with assurance that our Father is the One who takes care of us. Fasting is a chance for the soul to take care of what is within, our path, cleansing our sins, cleansing our interior and purifying our hearts.
- Strive this week, to clear your conversation from earthly concerns. Clear your bodily concerns from the strong desires of eating, drinking… etc. Strive that your dialog be full with blessing and seasoned with the salt of the Spirit.
- Make yourself accountable, everyday, for your heavenly treasure. What belongs to you in heaven? And what did you do for God today?