Thursday after Ash Wednesday, February 18
Let Us Reach Out and Embrace Our Faith with a Reverential Love, Embracing the Cross We Are Called Upon to Carry in Our Own Lives with Humility and True Repentance for Those Times in Which We Have Offended God’s Love.
“I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Choose life, then, that you and your descendants may live, by loving the LORD, your God, heeding his voice, and holding fast to him.”
A choice of life or a choice of death, a blessing or a curse – words we hear today from Moses in our First Reading, exhorting his people to follow the path which God set out for them. Wander off the path, and you risk death. Stay on the path that is laid out for you, and you will be blessed with a long life, a life which we have come to know as eternal.
We hear in our evening news or read in the newspapers or on the internet the struggles of life which beset many people throughout the world. There are many who turn to their faith and bear the crosses acceptingly which may come their way. There are others, however, who find it very difficult to deal with personal and professional hardships.
Whether these difficulties in life take the form of emotional, financial or physical duress, for those who are unable to endure the cross, many surrender themselves to what they consider as inevitable failure, unable to see any light at the end of the dark tunnel in which they find themselves. Some even turn to thoughts of prematurely ending their sufferings – a topic for many which is very difficult to think or talk about.
Suicide is one of the most terrible concepts that any human being can envision, much less act upon. Indeed, to most of us, the thought of throwing away God’s gift of life is incomprehensible and inclines us to presume that the person who does so must not be in a right state of mind, possibly suffering from some sense of diminished ability to make right judgments for him or herself.
Yet, many of the choices which some people make each day certainly qualify as lesser versions of the very same thing, little suicides in which they kill a tiny part of themselves daily. The most obvious examples, of course, involve issues like substance abuse including both alcohol and drugs, chain smoking, sexual addictions, compulsive eating and other like disorders – which, in one form or another, to a greater or lesser degree, slowly destroys a part of themselves over time.
It is easy and obvious to say to oneself, “Stop! before you kill yourself!” But, we also know that turning off certain addictions is not an easy process.
But there are also all sorts of more subtle forms of slow suicide of the spirit – embracing grievances, holding on to the destructive emotion of hate, clinging to our materialism and refusing to share our surplus with those who are in need, using people instead of loving them, pretending we’re self-sufficient with no need for God – and the list goes on and on.
In the Old Testament Reading today from the Book of Deuteronomy, we are given a choice – life or death, blessing or curse.
And in our New Testament Reading from the Gospel of Luke, Jesus calls us to choose fullness of life, but with an imagery which is, to say the least, challenging to people of all faiths, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”
Some individuals might ask, “Do I really have any choice here at all, given the negative consequences of not choosing the cross?”
The answer is quite simple. We always have a choice. We can either choose this life, and all that it offers us; or we can choose eternity with God, and all that eternity offers.
For those who choose the glamour, the fame, the fortune and the secularistic pleasures which this world offers, our Lord poses this question to them, “What profit is there for one to gain the whole world yet lose or forfeit himself?”
Life on this side of the eternal is but a fleeting moment, less than a blink of the eye when compared to either an eternity of life with unimaginable love, peace and happiness, or an eternity of death with unbearable hatred, torment and suffering.
For each of us who truly embraces our faith, spending an eternity with the One who loves us beyond all human description or understanding is infinitely more preferable over spending an eternity with the prince of lies who is filled with hatred and loathing for us!
God and Heaven are very real, and so is Satan and Hell! – even though our culture and many so-called academics scoff at the idea of an afterlife with unending agony and misery. And in their ridicule and denial of what our faith has taught us for two millennia, they pervert God’s Truth given to us through the inspired writings of Sacred Scripture and the teachings of the Church’s Magisterium.
In our personal walk of faith, one of the great tasks of this season of Lent can be a long and hard look at the choices we make in this life. The options are pretty clear. So are the answers.
May each of us spend these forty days reflecting upon our relationship with Jesus Christ. May we choose to transform ourselves interiorly – so that the witness which we give to the faith which you and I profess each day be one of true humility and a deep reverence for the God who loves each of us with an incomprehensible Love, and who only wishes to bless us with every good gift!
Let us reach out and embrace our faith with a reverential love, and let us embrace the cross we are called upon to carry in our own lives with humility and true repentance for those times in which we have offended God’s Love.
“If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” †
Please Comment, Like and Share, and Suggest to your Facebook friends – to spread the message of God’s Merciful Love.
Por favor Comente, Le Gusta y Comparta, y Sugiera a tus amigos en Facebook – en difundir el mensaje del Misericordioso Amor de Dios.
Scripture for the Day
- “…I have today set before you life and prosperity, death and doom. If you obey the commandments of the LORD, your God, which I enjoin on you today, loving him, and walking in his ways, and keeping his commandments, statutes and decrees, you will live…” (Deuteronomy 30:15-16a)
- “I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Choose life, then, that you and your descendants may live, by loving the LORD, your God, heeding his voice, and holding fast to him.” (Deuteronomy 30:19b-20a)
- “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the way of sinners, nor sit in company with scoffers; Rather, the law of the LORD is his joy; and on his law he meditates day and night.” (Psalm 1:1-2)
- “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. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.’” (Luke 9:23-24)
- “What profit is there for one to gain the whole world yet lose or forfeit himself?” (Luke 9:25)
- “The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:18)
- “It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.” (Acts 14:22)
- “He himself bore our sins in his body upon the cross, so that, free from sin, we might live for righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.” (1 Peter 2:24)
Prayer for the Day
“God, our Heavenly Father,
look upon me and hear my prayer
during this Holy Season of Lent.
“By the good works You inspire within me,
help me to discipline my body
and be renewed in heart, mind and soul.
“Without You, Lord, I can do nothing.
By Your Spirit, help me to know what is right
and to be eager in fulfilling Your will.
“Teach me to find new life through penance.
Keep me from sin, and help me live
by Your Commandment of love.
“God of Love, bring me back to You.
Send Your Spirit to make me strong
in faith and active in good works.
“May my acts of penance bring me Your forgiveness,Anonymous (a Lenten prayer)
open my heart to Your Love,
and prepare me for the coming Feast of the Resurrection
of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.”