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Look down, O Lord, upon Thy household: and grant that our minds, chastened by the mortification of the flesh may shine before Thee with desire for Thee; through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost: ever one God, world without end. Amen.

This prayer uses the familiar and endearing name for God’s people of “household.” Paul uses it many times in his letters. “Mortifications of the flesh” sounds scary until you remember that it’s nothing other than dying to self and living to God, which we do every time we repent and believe in the promises of forgiveness. The picture of our minds shining with desire for God is a beautiful one, and one I haven’t run across before. I like it.

The Gospel for today is Matthew 21:10-17. It follows on Matthew’s account of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, and while it isn’t as often heard, is still an interesting account. Jesus drives out the money changers, who were moved by greed under the cover of sanctimony, and He heals the blind and lame there. This pictures what Jesus does during Lent — gives us grace to drive out evil desires and to come to Him for cleansing and healing. The example of the children also shows how God values faith, not anything outward. True faith is always pleasing to God and is His work, so that’s what we aspire to.

Isaiah 55:6-11, the Epistle for the day, pictures how — by the power of God’s Word.  His thoughts are higher than our thoughts in valuing faith over the things the world values (power, money, prestige, fame), but He always accomplishes exactly what He knows is best through His Word. Thus it is faithful use of God’s Word that brings about the desired growth in our lives during Lent. The note of repentence also sounds forth in this reading, as is fitting this time of year.