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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 March 4-10, 2024.


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

Luke 6:35a


In today’s reading from 2 Kings, we meet Naaman, a foreign commander who suffered from leprosy. Through his wife’s Israeli servant, Naaman learns of Elisha the prophet and seeks a cure for his lifelong disease. The cure Elisha eventually offers is disconcertingly simple: he instructs Naaman to wash in the Jordan seven times so as to be healed.

Rather than welcome this news, Naaman is enraged by the simplicity of Elisha’s instructions. He was expecting a task as all-encompassing and consuming as his disease. His servants point out the irony in this, saying “Father, if the prophet had commanded you to do something difficult, would you not have done it?” Naaman’s healing comes about in part because he sets aside his expectations and accepts the simplicity of Elisha’s instructions.

I think this is just the message we need for this moment in Lent. For some, Lent is a time of profound sacrifice, fervent prayer and self-examination—and this is certainly appropriate. The way of the cross is serious work, and Lent is a time of living more deeply into that. And yet we are also following the One who said “my yoke is easy and my burden is light” and whose life and witness was marked by penitence but also feasting and joy. Sometimes healing can come through the simplest paths.


Today’s readings
Psalm 42:1–7 | 2 Kings 5:1–15b | Luke 4:23–30


Do we sometimes make the journey more complicated than it needs to be? How might embracing simplicity and trusting in God’s guidance lead us to healing and a deeper connection with the way of the cross?




Should you not have had mercy on your fellow slave, as I had mercy on you?

Matthew 18:33


In today’s reading, we come across a particularly intense Jesus. He compares forgiveness to a king condemning slaves to torture until they forgive their debtors just as their own debts have been forgiven.

So much for gentle Jesus, meek and mild.

And yet, perhaps the reason why Jesus’ imagery is so direct and startling is that this is one of his hardest teachings. Or it is for me, anyway. In my mind, I often see a spiritual ledger. On the left side are my debts—my mistakes, faults and sins—which have been met with compassion and grace. I think of friends, family and coworkers who have given me another chance and continued the conversation, even when I didn’t really deserve it. And then, embarrassingly, on the other side of the ledger are the times when I’ve failed to extend that same measure of compassion and grace to others.

Although we’ve had our debts forgiven, we are lording over others what is owed to us. Jesus’ message is stark and simple: forgive others’ debts as yours have been forgiven.


Today’s readings
Psalm 25:3–10 | Song of the Three Young Men (Apocrypha) 2–4,11–20a | Matthew 18:21–35


Can we identify moments when we have received grace and compassion? When have we struggled to extend the same to others?




Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.

Matthew 5:17


I recently toured Barcelona’s medieval synagogue in the city’s Jewish quarter on El Call Street. This synagogue likely stood on the same grounds as the one used by the Roman-era Jewish community. Archaeological excavations have uncovered Roman stones featuring Hebrew numerals for 18, a number symbolizing hope for protection from Roman authorities.

As a Christian, visiting such sites is a complex experience; historical danger often stemmed from Christians themselves. Our guide recounted medieval pogroms, the unjust blame Christians placed on the Jewish community for the Black Plague and the long history of Christian persecution against Jews, including the horrors of the Inquisition. This highlights the importance of today’s reading: a reminder that Jesus himself was Jewish and of the importance of the continuity of our traditions. There isn’t a separate God of the Old Testament and the New Testament; early Christianity held a nuanced view of the relationship between grace and law. Unfortunately, much of this continuity has become obscured over the centuries.

I believe we have a responsibility to learn more and repent for Christianity’s historical rejection of Jesus’ Jewish identity, and we must continue to recognize the deep connection between our faith communities.


Today’s readings
Psalm 78:1–6 | Deuteronomy 4:1–2,5–9 | Matthew 5:17–19


How can we actively promote and strengthen the understanding of the shared heritage between Christianity and Judaism in our communities and foster mutual respect and unity?




They walked in their own counsels, and looked backward rather than forward.

Jeremiah 7:24b


The Bible provides a fascinating perspective on the moral significance of memory. Time and again, God reminds the people of Israel of their deliverance from Egyptian enslavement, underscoring the ethical significance of this experience. The memory of liberation is meant to inspire Israel to act justly, drawing from their experience and lessons of their past suffering and redemption.

However, in today’s passage from Jeremiah, God rebukes the people for fixating on their past and neglecting the potential of the future. They have become ensnared in the spiritual pitfall of nostalgia, as if they’ve forgotten to “remember the future,” as my spiritual director aptly puts it.

Remembering the future recognizes that each new day brings fresh opportunities and that life’s most significant moments are not confined to the past. It is a call to embrace the notion that new possibilities are ever-present, urging us to craft innovative paths for the days ahead. In essence, this perspective assigns moral weight to the future, affirming that God’s vision of freedom and abundance awaits realization in the days ahead. In this way, the future carries as much moral responsibility as our past, urging us to actively shape it in alignment with a greater purpose.


Today’s readings
Psalm 95:6–11 | Jeremiah 7:23–28 | Luke 11:14–23


How can we both cherish the lessons of our past experiences while remembering to build a more just and hopeful future?




We will say no more, “Our God,” to the work of our hands.

Hosea 14:3b


Today’s readings center on the theme of idolatry. Hosea condemns Israel for placing their faith in the Assyrians and worshiping the work of their own hands. Psalm 81 warns against having a “strange god among you,” and in Mark 12:28–34, Jesus emphasizes the priority of loving God with heart, soul and mind. In each case, Scripture underscores God’s desire that we place our faith solely in the One who led us out of Egypt.

Discussing idolatry in the twenty-first century may seem unusual, but I invite us to consider it as a prompt to reflect on where our ultimate faith lies. When faced with challenges, who and what do we truly believe in? Where do we put our trust?

While modern idolatry may not involve carving and worshiping statues, many of us (myself included) spend a significant part of our day with our heads bowed down to smartphones. Technology is often hailed as the solution to societal issues. Similarly, in almost every sector of society, people overvalue money’s ability to solve all sorts of intractable problems. These texts remind us to question where we place our faith and to return to something deeper and more intrinsic.

Hosea beautifully describes God as a Cypress tree and God’s mercy as dew, emphasizing the gap between the work of our hands and the steadfastness of the earth itself. What would it mean to reevaluate where we place our ultimate trust?


Today’s readings
Psalm 81:8–14 | Hosea 14:1–9 | Mark 12:28–34


In a world where technology and wealth often take center stage, how can we ensure that our faith and trust remain firmly rooted in something deeper and more enduring, as emphasized in Scripture?




I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other.

Luke 18:14a


Every year on Ash Wednesday, Episcopal clergy engage in a somewhat peculiar debate. Some churches opt for “Ashes to Go,” offering quick prayers and ashes for people rushing off to work, while others view this on-the-go liturgy as unsettling and consumeristic, considering it an unnecessary concession to the busyness of people’s lives.

In my view, today’s passage from Luke provides guidance on the matter. In these verses, Jesus observes two individuals practicing penance. One follows all the religious protocols, offering lengthy prayers in a display of religious correctness and righteousness. The other is a tax collector who stands at a distance, uttering only a few words of penance. Jesus deliberately contrasts these two people, emphasizing that what truly matters is the humility and authenticity with which we approach God, rather than rigid adherence to external religious forms.

This serves as a reminder that God prioritizes sincerity and humility as we seek penance. As someone who embraces both traditional church practices and outreach on the sidewalks, I believe these qualities can be found in both settings. We need not position ourselves as judges of others’ prayers and penance; that task belongs to God alone.


Today’s readings
Psalm 51:15–20 | Hosea 6:1–6 | Luke 18:9–14


How can we observe traditional religious practices and also meet people where they are, recognizing that the authenticity and humility of our approach to God matter more than external expressions of faith?




Grant, O God, that your holy and life-giving Spirit may so move every human heart, that barriers which divide us may crumble, suspicions disappear, and hatreds cease; that our divisions being healed, we may live in justice and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord.


The Book of Common Prayer, p. 823

Today’s readings
Psalm 107:1–3,17–22 | Numbers 21:4–9 | Ephesians 2:1–10 | John 3:14–21