THURSDAY AFTER ASH WEDNESDAY
Reading 1: Deut 30:15-20 Moses sets before his people a program that beautifully describes the purpose and goal of our Lenten life: “Choose life . . . love God, heed his voice.”
Gospel: Lk 9:22-25 Jesus lays down a formula for discipleship with him; To be his followers, we must deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow him.
LIVING IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
A cursory unreflected glance on today’s readings may throw up the semblance of opposing theological ideals. The first reading seems to propagate the teaching that following the Lord will yield a reward of material prosperity. “If you obey the commandments of the Lord… (he) will bless you in the land which you are entering to make your own.” In the Gospel however, Jesus couldn’t have been more lucid in his message when he says: “If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me.”
From this apparent dissonance, a question arises: If the whole of Scripture is the ‘word of God’, shouldn’t there be a harmonious continuity? Our Lord himself settles this dubiety on several occasions. He proclaims that he has come to fulfil the Law (Mt 5:17); and he declares that Moses permitted divorce because of the hardness of heart of the people (Mt 19:8).
The whole of Scripture is the word of God, and therefore, God’s essential message of his love and purpose for humanity and all of creation is revealed in a harmonious continuity. That being said, there is also a difference based on two factors – the progressive nature of the revelation, and the limitedness of human interpretation.
God revealed his message in the Old Testament gradually, according to the capacity of the people, who then interpreted it according to their limited understanding and historical context. With Jesus the Truth, God’s revelation is complete; through him the Way, the message is made clear; in him the Life, the perfect interpretation of how to live is found. How unfortunate therefore, if we still desire to live by the imperfect interpretation of the Old Testament people, by a ‘prosperity Gospel’ ideology? “What gain is it for a man to have won the whole world and to have lost or ruined his very self?”
Responsorial Psalm: Ps 1:1-4,6 Blessed the man who has placed his trust in the Lord.
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