Friday of Cheesefare Week

Breaking of bread at Emmaus

One of the images for the Great Fast is that of a journey. Since the Fast lasts 40 days, the 40 year journey of the Israelites through the desert to the Promised Land is a particularly powerful image. The Israelites were fed on manna in the desert, but in our journey we are fed by the Body of Christ in the Presanctified Liturgy. Jesus said: “I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world” (John 6:48-51).

The readings from Zechariah tell us of another journey: “Thus says the Lord of hosts: I am going to rescue my people from the land of the rising sun, and from the land of the setting sun. I will bring them back to dwell within Jerusalem … Many peoples and strong nations will come to seek the Lord of hosts in Jerusalem and to implore the favor of the Lord” (Zechariah 8:7-8.22). Jerusalem is our goal. There our Lord died and there he gave us life. Our Lord said, “Yet I must continue on my way today, tomorrow, and the following day, for it is impossible that a prophet should die outside of Jerusalem” (Luke 13:33).

We are invited to follow him in our hearts to the heavenly Jerusalem where all glory will be fulfilled.

Meditation by Archpriest David Petras

Thursday of Cheesefare Week

In Cheesefare Week, we read the passion of our Lord according to St. Luke. What strikes me today is how the passion affects the people around Jesus. The women of Jerusalem receive a warning. The corrupt rulers Pilate and Herod make up and become friends. The venerable Joseph of Arimathea, member of the council, who “had not consented to their decision and deed,” courageously asks for the body of Jesus and gives it burial.

Simon of Cyrene is made to bear Jesus’ cross, becoming an icon for all of us who believe, for Jesus said, “Unless you take up your cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple.” But what is the cross – it is love for the other to the point of laying down our own lives. The soldiers receive forgiveness, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” Then the soldiers repent, “Certainly, this was a righteous man.” (Verse 23:47) Maybe we have this mercy thing upside down. We say, repent and we will show you mercy, maybe it goes the opposite way, we show mercy and the person repents.

Jesus shows mercy to the woman caught in adultery, then tells her, “Go, and sin no more.”

Meditation by Archpriest David Petras