Thursday after Ash Wednesday 27 February 2020
Moses said to the people: ‘See, today I set before you life and prosperity, death and disaster. If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I enjoin on you today, if you love the Lord your God and follow his ways, if you keep his commandments, his laws, his customs, you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land which you are entering to make your own. But if your heart strays, if you refuse to listen, if you let yourself be drawn into worshipping other gods and serving them, I tell you today, you will most certainly perish; you will not live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess. I call heaven and earth to witness against you today: I set before you life or death, blessing or curse. Choose life, then, so that you and your descendants may live, in the love of the Lord your God, obeying his voice, clinging to him; for in this your life consists, and on this depends your long stay in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob he would give them.’
Psalm 1 Happy the one who has placed their trust in the Lord.
Gospel Luke 9:22
Jesus said to his disciples: ‘The Son of Man is destined to suffer grievously, to be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes and to be put to death, and to be raised up on the third day.’ Then to all he said: ‘If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross every day and follow me. For anyone who wants to save his life will lose it; but anyone who loses his life for my sake, that man will save it. What gain, then, is it for a man to have won the whole world and to have lost or ruined his very self?’
‘What gain, then, is it for a man to have won the whole world and to have lost or ruined his very self?’
Remember when you did something good. When you went out beyond your usual limits and extended yourself in your own goodness. How did it effect you; how did it make you feel about yourself?
Our own goodness usually brings a smile to our faces. We feel lighter, perhaps a sense of our own integrity. Our spirit needs embodiment. Without it we become disconnected from ourselves and others. Embodiment connects us to reality so that we are not just a bunch of free-floating ideas. Our soul longs for incarnation. Goodness is embodied in action, in performance. In goodness we become aware that in reality there is no separation between ourselves and creation. We are a whole and, in our goodness, and good action we affirm the goodness of the Whole.
We live in a world that is driven by capitalism, no matter what our ideology, even communists are driven by an addiction to want more and more and more. Self-interest is borne out of a mindset of scarcity not abundance. As we move from self-interest, we realise just how rich and abundant our lives are already .
Want to see happy people? Don’t look among the wealthy or people of status or celebrities, look to the poor, those who are not famous, those struggling to live. When I was on mission in the Fiji Island for six years, or in the islands of Papua New Guinea, these were the most joyful people I’ve ever met. People who were deeply connected to themselves to one another and to creation.
Recall one occasion when you have moved beyond yourself to take up your cross and follow Jesus. One time when you have chosen not to win the acclaim of others, but to bring goodness into the world, even though it brought you nothing.
Choose life, then, so that you may live, in the love of the Lord your God, and follow his ways obeying his voice, clinging to him. He is the source and focus of our prosperity and joy.