THURSDAY AFTER ASH WEDNESDAY
Dt 30: 15-20; Ps 1: 1-4, 6; Lk 9: 22-25
TAKE UP YOUR CROSS AND FOLLOW ME
Throughout the book of Deuteronomy, faithfulness to God is spoken of together with the remembrance of his promises and reward here on earth. This should not surprise us. In those times, the people of God had no understanding of another life nor the resurrection and the beatific vision after death. They only focused on the present life and their national destiny, which in their view, were more important than the destiny of the individual. For them God’s justice had to be seen on earth in the present.
In the verses immediately preceding the Gospel passage of today, we come across Jesus’ question to his disciples: “Who do you say that I am?” And Peter replies: “The Christ of God.” Jesus had come to open for them and for all, the door leading to the resurrection. Since his apostles now know him to be the promised saviour, they must learn that there is no salvation if death is not conquered. He will obtain this victory when he freely chooses the way of the cross: “The Son of man has to suffer much and be rejected by the authorities.”
Immediately after that, Jesus adds that we must all share in his victory over death. You must “deny yourself” – this is the fundamental orientation of our life. We must choose between serving and being served, sacrificing ourselves for others or taking advantage of them. As a well-known prayer puts it: “Grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console, to be understood as to understand, to be loved as to love.”
Then comes the call to accept the cross which the Lord gives to each one of us and which we do not have to choose because we find it in our destiny. “Take up your cross and follow me.” We must not carry it because we are compelled to; rather, we must love it, because the Lord, whom we love, chose it for himself and wishes it for us.
Response: Blessed the man who has placed his trust in the Lord.
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