Tuesday, Third Week of Lent

Tuesday, March 17

Tuesday, Third Week of Lent


The liturgical readings are available here.

The long prayer of Azariah from the Book of Daniel is a public penitential prayer. It started with profession that God acted correctly and the city of Jerusalem represented by its people deserved punishment. Once the present situation of dire need is described, request for help follows.

Biblical scholars are uncertain whether this prayer reflects the situation around the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians in 587/586 BC, or rather the experience from the Maccabean period in the 2nd cent. BCE, when Jerusalem was in hands of opposing political rulers.

Azariah in his prayer can only base himself on the very little that is left. While public prayers used to be accompanied by solemn sacrifices and holocausts in the past, all is different now: We have in our day no prince, prophet, or leader, no burnt offering, sacrifice, oblation, or incense, no place to offer first fruits, to find favor with you.

All the external support is lost. The only thing that is left is contrite heart and humble spirit. He has nothing more to give, but his heart. All the external, institutional support has been lost. More than ever, Azariah is experiencing that he has nothing to offer God. The barter mentality does not apply. There is no way he could buy favor from God, because he has nothing to offer in exchange for redemption. He has nothing precious on his own and thus he is only offering his broken heart.

When all external support seems lost and we have nothing to offer but our broken lives, it is time to give up the business mentality when dealing with God. God gives, as soon as we are able to receive.