Thursday after Ash Wednesday
As we set out on our Lenten journey from Ash Wednesday to Good Friday and Easter, the Church helps us through today’s readings to be mindful of the infinite significance of our life in the world. “I set before you life or death, blessing or curse. Choose life, then, so that you and your descendants may live in the love of Yahweh your God, obeying his voice, clinging to Him; for in this your life consists…”
The Psalmist repeats the Deuteronomic theme: “Happy the man who never follows the advice of the wicked…but finds his pleasure in the Law of Yahweh, and meditates on His Law day and night…He is like a tree that is planted by water streams, yielding its fruit in season; its leaves never fading…”
In Luke’s Gospel, this theme is profoundly deepened in the light of the Passion and Resurrection. Christ predicts His rejection by the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem but also that He will be raised up. But again we are given a choice: either to take up our cross every day and follow Christ to find ourselves, or, devote ourselves in a worldly way and lose ourselves.
The failure to recognize Jesus by the Jewish elders is striking. But I suspect there is much more than a historical point here about a failure of recognition. Is it always easy to recognize “the cross,” God’s will for us, that we are to pick up each day? Can one be picking it up the wrong way, or carrying it the wrong way, or even trying to carry someone else’s cross? What would be the spiritual, empirical evidence here? In describing those who take up their cross and follow Christ, Pope Francis observes they are the ones who have experienced God’s loving forgiveness and found true joy. St. Paul insists on this very point to the Galatians: “what the spirit brings is…love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, trustfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (Gal. 5:22-23) Our true cross does lead to our resurrection.
Lord, please grant us the grace to see with our eyes and hear with our ears Your word in our lives, so that we may learn how to respond to Your love for us with an ever more generous heart.
Peter Tumulty, Professor of Philosophy
First Reading: Deuteronomy 30: 15-20
Psalm 1:1-4, 6
Gospel: Luke 9:22-25
Daily Scripture readings can be found online at the USCCB website