Thursday after Ash Wednesday
February 27, 2020
Today, in Mercy, our readings confirm that a life patterned on Christ contradicts worldly definitions.
Deuteronomy gives us stark, either-or, advice:
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.
It’s definitive, but we could probably do that, right? Choose life, love God, heed God’s voice, hold fast to God? Sounds OK, doesn’t it?
It’s when Jesus comes along that it sounds difficult.
Jesus tells us, “Here’s how you choose life –
“Whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.”
Jesus tells us, “Here’s the God you must love, one who
“suffers greatly, is rejected, and is killed.”
Jesus tells us, “Here’s what my voice says to you –
“What profit is there for you to gain the whole world
yet lose or forfeit yourself?”
Jesus tells us, “Here’s how you hold fast to me –
‘Take up your cross daily and follow me.”
Some have huge crosses to carry in their lives – perhaps famine, enslavement, untended illness, homelessness, persecution, poverty. Those who carry such crosses are singularly loved by God who dwells with them.
But if we don’t have big, obvious crosses in our lives – if we are among those the world deems fortunate – how do we follow the crucified Jesus to find our way to eternal life?
How do we really CHOOSE LIFE?
We need to get close to the ones God singularly loves. We need to walk beside them and lift some of their heavy crosses. We need to help their voices be heard, their needs be met, their rights be honored.
Not all of us can do this by direct service. But we can do it by our advocacy, our material contributions, and our articulated support for justice.
We need to make these choices for life all the time. But Lent is a great time to examine the vigor and commitment of our choices, a time to take a closer walk with our suffering Christ and ask him to inspire our courage.
Music: Just a Closer Walk with Thee – Patsy Cline and Willie Nelson