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Contemplating today's Gospel

Today's Gospel + homily (in 300 words)

Thursday after Ash Wednesday
1st Reading (Deut 30:15-20): Moses said to the people: «Today I have set before you life and prosperity, death and doom. If you obey the commandments of the Lord, your God, which I enjoin on you today, loving him, and walking in his ways, and keeping his commandments, statutes and decrees, you will live and grow numerous, and the Lord, your God, will bless you in the land you are entering to occupy. If, however, you turn away your hearts and will not listen, but are led astray and adore and serve other gods, I tell you now that you will certainly perish; you will not have a long life on the land that you are crossing the Jordan to enter and occupy. I call heaven and earth today to witness against you: 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. For that will mean life for you, a long life for you to live on the land that the Lord swore he would give to your fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob».
Responsorial Psalm: 1
R/. Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.
Blessed the man who follows not the counsel of the wicked, nor walks in the way of sinners, nor sits in the company of the insolent, but delights in the law of the Lord and meditates on his law day and night.

He is like a tree planted near running water, that yields its fruit in due season, and whose leaves never fade. Whatever he does, prospers.

Not so the wicked, not so; they are like chaff which the wind drives away. For the Lord watches over the way of the just, but the way of the wicked vanishes.
Versicle before the Gospel (Mt 4:17): Repent, says the Lord; the Kingdom of heaven is at hand.
Gospel text (Lk 9:22-25): Jesus said to his disciples: “The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised.”

Then he said to all, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. What profit is there for one to gain the whole world yet lose or forfeit himself?”

“If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me”

Fr. Josep Mª MASSANA i Mola OFM (Barcelona, Spain)

Today is the first Thursday of Lent. The ashes our Church placed on our foreheads yesterday are still fresh, introducing us into this holy time, a forty-day journey. Jesus, in the Gospel, teaches us two paths: the Way of the Cross that He must walk, and our path in following Him.

His path is the Way of the Cross and death, but also of His glorification: " The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected… and be killed and on the third day be raised" (Lk 9:22). The path we must take is, essentially, no different from that of Jesus, and it shows us how to follow Him: " If anyone wishes to come after me..." (Lk 9:23).

Embracing His Cross, Jesus followed the Father's Will; we, by taking up our own cross, accompany Him on His Way of the Cross.

The path of Jesus is summarized in three words: suffering, death, resurrection. Our path also consists of three aspects: Self-denial, taking up the cross every day, and following Jesus (the first two are attitudes, while the third is the essence of the Christian vocation).

If we do not deny ourselves and do not take up the cross, we are only seeking to affirm and protect ourselves —we want to "save our life," as Jesus says. But, in trying to save it, we will lose it. On the other hand, if, for the sake of Jesus, we do not strive to avoid suffering and the cross, we will save our life. It is the paradox of following Jesus: "What profit is there for one to gain the whole world yet lose or forfeit himself?" (Lk 9:25).

These words of the Lord, which closes today's Gospel, shook the heart of Saint Ignatius and led to his conversion: "What if I did what Saint Francis did, and what Saint Dominic did?" May these same words also help us to convert this Lent!

Thoughts on Today's Gospel

  • “Let us look steadfastly to the blood of Christ, and see how precious that blood is to God which, having been shed for our salvation, has set the grace of repentance before the whole world.” (Saint Clement of Rome)

  • “We cannot think about the Christian life apart from this journey that He first made. It is the journey of humility. For the Christian way of life without the cross is not in fact Christian, and if the cross is a cross without Jesus, it is not Christian.” (Francis)

  • “Conversion is accomplished in daily life by gestures of reconciliation, concern for the poor, the exercise and defense of justice and right, (…) acceptance of suffering, endurance of persecution for the sake of righteousness. Taking up one's cross each day and following Jesus is the surest way of penance.” (Catechism Of The Catholic Church, Nº 1435)