THURSDAY AFTER ASH WEDNESDAY
John-Paul Heil C '15
"What profit is there for one to gain the whole world yet lose or forfeit himself?"
Today's readings feature many layers of intrigue, especially given their positioning on the day right after Ash Wednesday. These readings all foreshadow not only the ultimate sacrifice our Lord will have to make on Good Friday, but also the purpose of Lent as a whole. In the first reading from Deuteronomy, Moses exhorts the Israelites to follow in the way of the Lord and to place their trust in Him. Moses explains the two paths that lie before them: the way of the Lord, filled with blessings and joy, and the way of the world, which leads to despair and death. Most interestingly, Moses urges the Israelites to "choose life"-the way of the Lord is life itself and any other path laid out before us, leads to death.
Today's Psalm reinforces this point, with those who trust in the Lord like a healthy tree "planted near running water, that yields its fruit in due season," while those who do not, who choose the path of death are "like chaff which the wind drives away." Once again, the contrast between the path of life, which is the path of the Lord, and the path of death, which is the path of the world. However, neither of these readings details what the path of the Lord entails, something which the Gospel explains. In order to follow the path of life according to Luke (9: 23), we must deny ourselves and take up our crosses daily. Worldly goods are worthless if we lose ourselves in them. Christ's words remind us He will soon have to suffer and die for our sins and, if we truly follow His way, we must die to ourselves. This is what Lent is all about: dying to ourselves and rejecting the way of death so we can better follow the path of life that is Christ Himself.
Heavenly Father, please grant us the strength we need to reject the temptations of the path of the world, which leads only to death, and follow the path of life, by imitating the ways of Your Son. Amen.
DT 30: 15-20, Ps 1: 1-4, 6; Lk 9: 22-25