Photo credit: Wirestock on Freepik

2024 Daily Lenten Meditations

Psalm 51:10 reads, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.”

Reflect on your newness in Christ as you journey through Episcopal Relief & Development's Lenten Meditations, written by Miguel Escobar, and discover new ways your faith is guiding you through the world. Use this space to read and re-read the Lenten Meditations each week.

Lenten Meditations for February 26-March 3, 2024.


But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return.

Luke 6:35a


Nearly a year ago, my spouse and I visited the Eldridge Street Synagogue, a stunning place that was once a center of Jewish life on the Lower East Side of New York. After having fallen into disrepair, it was painstakingly restored, and today it is a museum rich in stories and artifacts from the community. Among the encased artifacts are two loan cards made to members of the synagogue in the 1920s. These cards record $100 and $25 loans issued and then repaid three weeks later at no interest. The word “paid” is scrawled in beautiful script over the first card.

Now, what on earth does this have to do with the Gospel reading today? This passage is one of my favorites because of a single line, an utterance so brief that it is rarely mentioned today. Quietly embedded within Jesus’ teaching on nonviolence and loving one’s enemy is what some have called Jesus’ single most important economic teaching: “But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return.”

When I think about those loan cards from the Eldridge Street synagogue, I wonder about the people who needed those $100- and $25-dollar loans. Was an eviction imminent? Was it for relief in the wake of a fire? We don’t know much about the people who received those loans, but the fact that they were offered without interest tells us a lot about the compassion and care of the community that extended them. May we continue to use our financial resources to practice love and compassion in our communities.


Today’s readings
Psalm 79:1–9 | Daniel 9:3–10 | Luke 6:27–38


Why does Jesus talk about poverty so much? What does Jesus mean when he says that giving without interest is a way of loving others? What are the practical implications of this teaching?




All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted.

Matthew 23:12


Most leadership courses begin with the premise that a good, credible leader is someone who is clear about their values and models the way. If you want to encourage generosity, you must do so by publicly modeling generosity. If you want people to address conflict calmly and thoughtfully, you must model this for others. Leaders have the opportunity to set the tone and parameters for what constitutes appropriate behavior, and they often do so more effectively through their actions rather than their words.

In today’s reading, Jesus critiques the wide gap that frequently exists between religious leaders’ words and deeds. He notes that while the religious leaders of his day spoke of humility, their actions, titles, dress and performative righteousness modeled both self-importance and the need to be at the center of all things. This behavior stands in stark contrast to the grounded humility Jesus hopes his followers will model: “All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted,” (Matthew 23:12).

Jesus’ critique is so piercing that it feels transcendently applicable today. If Jesus is truly our leader, then we must learn to model simplicity, humility and a desire to learn rather than be lauded as an expert. Then, we can grow in awareness that God is the main character of this story, not us.


Today’s readings
Psalm 50:7–15, 22–24 | Isaiah 1:2–4,16–20 | Matthew 23:1–12


If simplicity and humility are key values for Jesus, how might we model this in our daily life?




It will not be so among you; but whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be the first among you must be your slave; just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

Matthew 20:26–28


One of the most important, recurring themes in the Gospels is the large gap between Jesus’ descriptions of God’s kingdom and how his followers imagine it. In today’s passage, the mother of the sons of Zebedee makes the same mistake generations of Christians have made by equating Jesus’ coming kingdom with worldly wealth and power.

She wants in—or, more specifically, she wants her sons to benefit from high positions in Jesus’ coming reign. Jesus’ response is one of surprise and bafflement. He has just finished describing the way of the cross that awaits him. How could anyone mistake the shameful crucifixion he must endure with powerful thrones, golden crowns and worldly power?

Over the past year, I’ve visited many museums that focus on medieval religious art. Very often, Jesus is portrayed as a royal king, replete with golden crown, scepter and orb. While I understand that this imagery is intended to convey the glory and power of the resurrected Christ, ruling and judging from his universal throne, I can’t help but wonder whether such imagery misses the point. For generations, Christians have kept trying to put a golden crown on one who wore a crown of thorns.


Today’s readings
Psalm 31:9–16 | Jeremiah 18:1–11,18–20 | Matthew 20:17–28


How do we sometimes confuse the true essence of faith and discipleship with worldly success and recognition? What steps can we take to better align our understanding with the teachings of Jesus and his message of selflessness and humility?




There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus.

Luke 16:19–20


To paraphrase the historian Diarmaid MacCulloch, one of the most striking things about the Gospels is the way in which “the rich and the beautiful people” are largely sidelined, and the poor and marginalized people’s everyday encounters with God are in the forefront. He argues this is a rare—indeed, almost unique—aspect of these ancient texts.

This uniqueness is captured nicely in the story of the rich man and Lazarus. When reading the story closely, you may notice that almost unlike any other space in society, it is the rich man who goes nameless, and it is the beggar outside his door whose name we learn and whose experience of suffering and redemption we follow closely.

In learning to see the world through Gospel eyes, we need to pay attention to whose names we know. So many of us know not only the names but also intimate details about the lives of the rich and beautiful people of the world—celebrities, royalty, athletes—yet we may have a hard time calling to mind the names of the people we pass every day on the street or even the full names of cleaning staff we’ve worked beside for years. The people whose names we care to learn tell us who we consider to be at the center of God’s unfolding story, and the Gospels have a very particular perspective on this.


Today’s readings
Psalm 1 | Jeremiah 17:5–10 | Luke 16:19–31


Whose experiences and struggles do you pay attention to, and how might this perspective align or diverge from the Gospel’s focus on those often overlooked by society?




Here comes this dreamer.

Genesis 37:19b


The passage from Genesis describes how Israel favored one of his sons, Joseph, over the others—and how the hurt and resentment this engendered among Joseph’s brothers led them to conspire to get rid of him.

The brothers begin plotting when they see him in the distance: “Here comes this dreamer.” While the reading is about Joseph and his brothers, I believe what happens to Joseph gives us insight into our actions toward other “dreamers” around the globe—artists, prophets and truth-tellers whose vision of a more just, equal and peaceful world disturbs those who are beholden to the status quo. “Here comes this dreamer,” they say.

As someone who frequently listens to news out of Latin America, I think about the bravery of journalists whose truth-telling and commitment to exposing corruption has led to their arrest or disappearance. They dream of a more transparent, less corrupt society, and they frequently pay heavily for this vision.

So much of what we hold dear is because of the sacrifice endured by everyday dreamers. Lent is an invitation to dream deeply with Jesus about a more peaceful, just and hopeful world. Yet we do so with a clear-eyed understanding of how the world treats its dreamers. May we be courageous and brave as we continue dreaming.


Today’s readings
Psalm 105:16–22 | Genesis 37:3–4,12–28 | Matthew 21:33–43


What steps can we take to support and uplift the voices of modern-day truth-tellers and visionaries who work for positive change, despite the challenges they face?




Quickly, bring out a robe—the best one—and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.

Luke 15:22b


Today’s parable is one of Jesus’ most famous: the Prodigal Son. There are many ways of reading this story, including as a story about what counts as waste and generosity. Through this lens, this is a story about a younger son who receives his full inheritance and who then wastes it on partying and prostitutes. When he is starving and penniless, he returns to his father who generously offers even more for having returned (a robe, ring, sandals for his feet) and wants to throw a big feast.

The older brother considers his father’s generosity to be its own form of squandering. “But when this son of yours came back, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fatted calf for him!”

This brings me to a strange and troubling fact about Jesus: he is frequently the advocate for what some have called “promiscuous generosity,” that is, generosity without a lot of terms. This is the type of generosity that upsets and scandalizes his disciples. It is a generosity, they contend, offered to too many people—and all the wrong sorts.


Today’s readings
Psalm 103:1–4(5–8)9–12 | Micah 7:14–15,18–20 | Luke 15:11–32


Are there times when we, like the older brother, find ourselves questioning acts of generosity toward those we deem unworthy? Do we struggle to give without conditions? How might this parable challenge us to expand our understanding of generosity and compassion in our lives?




O God, you have taught us to keep all your commandments by loving you and our neighbor: Grant us the grace of your Holy Spirit, that we may be devoted to you with our whole heart, and united to one another with pure affection; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.


The Book of Common Prayer, p. 230

Today’s readings
Psalm 19 | Exodus 20:1–17 | 1 Corinthians 1:18–25 | John 2:13–22