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When you pray, fast, and give alms

2Timothy 1:9: God has saved us and called us to a holy life-not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time.
  Let us Pray ...
Heavenly Father, Thank you so much, for knowing us and thinking of our needs even before there was a world. We dedicate this day, the days that follow, to your honor as we try to live a life that reflects your righteousness and grace. In the name of Infant Jesus, the one who had no sin, we pray. Amen.
  Today's Readings ... (March 09, 2011)
Ash Wednesday
First Reading:  Joel 2:12-18
Responsorial Psalm:  Psalm 51:3-4,5-6ab,12-13,14 &17
Second Reading:  2 Cor 5:20-6:2
Gospel:  Matthew 6:1-6,16-18
  Meditation on Today's Gospel: (Matthew 6:1-6,16-18)
The Jews considered prayer, fasting, and almsgiving are fundamental works of the religious life. These were seen as the key symbols of a pious person, the three great pillars on which the good life was founded. Jesus pointed to the heart of the matter. Why do perform when you pray, fast, and give alms? To draw attention to yourself so that others might notice and think greatly of you? Or to give splendor to God? The Lord cautions his disciples of selfish glory – the anxiety with looking good and seeking admire from others. True piety is something additional than feeling good or looking sacred. True piety is loving dedication to God. The forty days of Lent is the yearly retreat of the people of God in replication of Jesus' forty days in the wilderness. Forty is an important number in the scriptures. Moses went to the mountain to search for the face of God for forty days in prayer and fasting. The people of Israel were in the wilderness for forty years in grounding for their entry into the Promised Land. Elijah fasted for forty days as his voyage in the wilderness to the mountain of God. We are called to journey with the Lord in a particular season of prayer, fasting, almsgiving, and repentance as we prepare to celebrate the banquet of Easter, the Christian Passover. The Lord gives us religious food and paranormal strength to seek his face and to prepare ourselves for spiritual battle and testing. We, too, must follow in the way of the cross in arrange to share in the victory of Christ's death and renaissance. As we begin this holy season of testing and training, let's ask the Lord for a fresh expression of his Holy Spirit that we may grow in faith, hope, and love and accept his will more fully in our lives.
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