Thursday after Ash Wednesday
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Jesus said to his disciples: “The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised.” Then he said to all, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me…”
The readings today bring us to the very core – foundation – of how we can fully and fruitfully live our Lent.
Moses said to the people: “Today I have set before you life and prosperity, death and doom…Choose life” (Dt. 30:15-20). This message is powerful, very powerful! It is also inspiring and scary. Inspiring, because of what it means; scary because I have a huge role to play in it. There is a choice I must make, and it can either lead to life or to death.
Moses said these words right before his people, the Chosen People, entered the Promised Land. He stopped them in their tracks. Turned around and told them straight up: Look, you need to make a decision right now. What’s it going to be? Are we going to live by God’s Commandments or are we going to live by our own. If we follow the Lord’s Commandments, then we will be free. If we decide to follow our own, then we run the risk of turning this Promised Land into another Egypt, another land of slavery. So what will it be? Will it be freedom with God or slavery (freedom from God)?
This is what Lent is all about. It’s about taking back our lives. It’s about doing a retake with Jesus. Do you know where our ashes come from? From Palm Sunday. They symbolize how we burned our chance to make Jesus our King! We blew it. We betrayed him. We burned him! If only we could have a retake! “Scene One. Take two.”
Scene One, Take Two. Lent is our chance to do a retake. We made two fundamental mistakes the first time around. We let our pride and vanity get in the way of the Lord. This time around we need to reject them and accept Him.
Whatever we do this Lent, we must do it with two core virtues: Sacrifice and Humility.
The Son of Man must suffer greatly. How far can you go? That is the question. How much can you give? Can you give a little bit more each day? If you have given five dollars every Sunday for five years can you give five dollars and fifty-cents the next Sunday? Can you give a little more each Sunday? How far can you go?
If there is someone you haven’t spoken to in a while, can you say hello to them? Can you say “Hello. How are you doing?” the next time you see them? Can you say “Hello. How are you doing? What’s been going on?” the very next time you see them? How far can you go?
If you haven’t been able to forgive someone can you pray for them? Can you write to them? Can you meet with them? Can you speak to them? How far can you go?
And be rejected by the elders, the chief priests… How low can you go? It must not have been easy for the Apostles to hear this. All Jews, regardless of age, gender, wealth or position, held in great esteem the elders, the chief priests and the scribes. They were their legitimate leaders. They were the ones that got them through the worst times of their lives. They were the heroes, and they were what every little Jewish boy wanted to be.
And now Christ was telling His Apostles that He was going to be rejected by them. This was a smack in their face; maybe even a smack to their pride and vanity. Christ’s Kingship was not going to be earned by acceptance and praise, but by humiliation and sacrifice.
How low can you go?
As you can see, the Lord is not interested so much in the sacrifices we make as in the heart we remake.
Retake your heart! (0)