The first week
The beginning of this holy fast is a step towards the Heavenly Father, entrusting all life into His hands, feeling His merciful fatherly embrace, and enjoying the warmth of His divine love in prayer, in holy retreats, and in all our deeds and practices during Lent.In the first week: All the readings in the liturgies focus on the topic of God’s fatherhood for us, His great compassion towards us, our kinship to Him, and our position as children of the Father.
So the first week, we may call it the week of our Father who art in heaven.
The second week
The second week begins with the Sunday Gospel, which is a reassuring talk from the Father to the souls of His children, and assurance for their lives against worldly concerns.The first feeling that must be rooted in our depths while we are in the bosom of the Father is the sense of complete peace and tranquility, like a child in the bosom of his father, and the first word we hear from the Father while we are in his arms is: “Do not worry about tomorrow, do not be disturbed.”Therefore, today’s chapter of the Gospel speaks of the Father’s interest in us and our future, and warns us about our hearts being the doorway to worldly concerns, and directs our gaze towards heaven.I hear him say: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal….” It is as if the Father is saying to us: “My children, why do you live threatened by fears of mites, rust, and thieves?” The cause of psychological disorders, anxiety and fear of the future, and the lack of peace in our heart… The reason for all these afflictions in our lives is having our treasure stacked up in worldly matters, and our interest in earthly things. Don’t you know that all the earth’s treasures, i.e. money, property, positions, wealth and dignities, no matter how much they reach, are subject to corruption, mites, rust, and thieves? but rather, as the Holy Spirit expressed it through the mouth of King Solomon: “Vanity of vanities… and grasping for the wind.”
Store up treasures for you in heaven
Do you have treasures in heaven? In simple terms, are you busy with heaven? Where are your hearts? Where your treasure is, there your heart will also be. Let us have friends in heaven, so that if we leave this world they receive us in the eternal tabernacles.
God and money
Money, in itself, is not a sin, on the contrary, money is a blessing and a good gift, but the whole danger lies in the love of money.The love of money is the root of all evil.The love of money destroys faith, eliminates dependence on God, and infects all worship at its core. For which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. Therefore, the blessed Christ, at the beginning of the fast, asks me about the soundness of my faith and the soundness of my heart. What is the subject that always occupies your mind.. and takes up all your thinking and heart? No one can worship two masters: God and money.So fasting becomes then the clarity of the vision, and the clarity of the goal. Enough wandering between the two routes, we have wasted our life, scattered our attention, and we wasted so many years, and our goal is not yet clear. Come brethern, let us strive towards our heavenly target, and our eternal life. There is nothing in this existence that deserves to distract us from our eternal life and our love for Christ, for what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul?
There are many questions written for us. Look at Lot’s wife – She came out with those who left Sodom, but her heart remained inside Sodom, and her treasure was in the dust of this earth… In this manner, she became an example to all generations who seek eternal life, but are attached to earthly things.
Consider the foolish rich man who relied on his money… because when someone has a lot, his life should not revolve around his money. And do not put your trust in untrustworthy riches, but trust in God. Consider Ananias and his wife Sapphira, who became a fright for the whole church, they wanted to have a share in giving, but the love of money made them lie to the Holy Spirit. Contemplate the rich young man, how the love of money prevented him from following Christ, and he went away sad because he had a lot of money… He clung to his money and refused eternal life. See how the love of the world and the love of money can turn the heart away from God. Consider those whom Paul the Apostle used to mention because of their goodness, and now he remembers them weeping, for they loved the present world, and the riches of this age, and they are the enemies of the cross of Christ. That is why John the Apostle said: “He who wants to be a friend of the world has become an enemy of God”. However if you want to learn to despise the vanities of the world: Ask Abraham, the father of the fathers, who had many riches, but he used to raise his face to the God of heaven and look at the eternal inheritance and the city that possesses all the foundations. And he considered himself a stranger, a sojourner, dust and ashes. Ask David the Prophet, who was not preoccupied with the tasks of kingship, nor did the worries of wealth could ever distance him from the company of his beloved. And he was asking and pleading to live in the house of the Lord and to gaze at his holy sanctuary, and his heart was devoid of the love of money as he stood before the Lord like a poor and needy man. Ask the pure apostles who forsook everything and considered it rubbish for the sake of the virtue of knowing Christ. And they became poor yet enriched many, as if they had nothing yet they owned everything. Ask St. Anthony who sold 300 acres and followed the Lord, did he lack anything in all his days until he reached the age of 105? Now we know with certainty that where our treasure is, there will also be our heart… and that treasure is always the subject of the heart’s preoccupation.
Do not worry
Finally, the Lord moves us from our vain concerns, to the main concern for eternal life. For which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature, for you are the ones who don’t know about tomorrow, for what is your life? It is a vapor that appears a little.The presence of worry and confusion in our lives signifies a lack of faith, lack of dependence on God, and lack of enjoyment of the bosom of the Father. For if we enjoyed God’s fatherhood, we would live in peace and joy, confident that our father is the one who cares for us. Let’s take care of our lives, take care of our spirituality, and take care of our souls.Fasting is an opportunity for the soul. We care about reforming our internal selves, our way of life, washing away our sins, keeping our clothes clean inside, and purifying our hearts.
- Strive this week to free your speech – as much as possible – of earthly and worldly matters such as eating, drinking, etc., and strive for your speech to be grace-filled with the salt of the spirit.
- Review yourself every day regarding your heavenly treasure. What do you have stacked up in heaven? What did you do for God on this day?