Thursday after Ash Wednesday, Feb 27th: Reflection & Liturgy

Deuteronomy 30:15-20 / Luke 9:22-25
 I set before you life and death: “Choose life!”

Sometimes news reporters embarrass us by the insensitive questions they ask people, especially people who have just suffered a major tragedy. For example, a news reporter asked John Cogan, a 51-year-old victim of terminal cancer, “What are your feelings as you face death?” Cogan stunned the reporter and his audience by saying: “There’s a joy I can’t express deep down inside me. I feel perfectly free. . . .I want to reach out and embrace the whole universe.” Cogan’s terminal illness had set before him the choice of life or death. He chose life—eternal life.
Do we see tragedies in our life as opportunities for life? “Whoever wants to save his own life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake Will Save it.” Luke 9:24
Making choices can be quite difficult, like which school to send the children to, what career to embark on, which person to enter into marriage with, right down to what food to eat and what clothes to wear. If those kinds of choices are difficult to make, then it may seem that the choice between life and death would be more straight-forward and clear-cut.

After all, a choice between life and death would seem to have a forgone conclusion, i.e. the choice would be obviously for life. But if it is such an obvious choice, then why would there be a choice at at all? We need to be aware of that sinful part in us that will make us look at the dark and slippery options that will eventually lead us to death, whether physical or spiritual death.

That is why in the 1st reading, Moses put before the people a choice between life and death, prosperity and disaster, blessing and curse. And he was exhorting and urging the people, even like almost begging them, to choose life by obeying the voice of God and living in the love of the Lord. The other choice would be death and disaster, and there are no other choices in between.

In the gospel, Jesus made it known what his choice for God would entail - He will accept suffering, rejection by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and finally be put to death. That doesn't sound very motivating; in fact, it sounded rather frightening. Yes, we are indeed frightened to lose our lives by giving of ourselves to others and sacrificing for others.

If we choose to follow Jesus, then it means that we have to renounce ourselves and take up our cross, everyday. That is indeed a difficult choice, but it is a choice that would bring us blessings and prosperity, life and love.
Thursday AFTER ASH WEDNESDAY - Liturgy


Faithfulness is not easy except if we are intensely committed to a person we love. If we are loyal, we share in the joys and trials of the other person and we never lose our serenity or basic happiness. This is also true in our relationship with God, which we live most intensely if we are strongly dedicated to Christ. We follow him in his passion to rise with him in joy. For if we are with him, even death brings life and happiness. 

Opening Prayer 
Lord our God, you love us and you invite us to share in your own life and joy, through a personal decision. Help us to choose you and life and to remain ever loyal to this basic option by the power of Jesus Christ, your Son, who was loyal to you and to us, now and for ever.

“Choose life.” Those words from today’s Deuteronomy reading have become a mantra for those promoting the life issues in modem times. It resonates with those who uphold the dignity of human life from the womb to the final illness. Its original meaning is connected with the divine promise of tranquility and blessings in the land of promise that Yahweh is entrusting to his people. Observance of God’s law leads to the blessing of all temporalities needed for life. A life of sin, on the other hand, was the choice of death, which would only bring tragedy and havoc to a dissident population. Christianity promises life as well, but life with a fuller understanding and with different choices. Suffering in the Old Testament, especially the suffering of the innocent, was an enigma. The innocent Job was at a loss to explain the suffering he had to endure. For the Christian, suffering is woven into the texture of life itself. Cross bearing is the way God brings us to eternal life, as is clearly stated in today’s Gospel. That cross that comes to us in different forms must be embraced, and Jesus’ road to Calvary followed as we move ahead. This may mean illness, difficulties in the workplace, unexpected unemployment, or disappointment in family situations. We may know that these are not troubles of our own making. But when borne with patience and resignation—and a smile—they terminate with a life in God. As Lent begins, it is time to reassess our lives, recognizing those obstacles that are part of our journey. We want to unite our crosses with that of Christ and move forward, with grace and dignity, toward that goal, which means more than gaining the whole world. 

Points to Ponder 
The good life for the Hebrews
The role of suffering in our life
Material wealth as a goal in life Christian asceticism: bearing the cross 

– That God may give us every day the courage to follow him, also when the choice between good and evil is difficult, we pray: – For the People of God, the Church, that we may have the insight and the bravery to accept the reform needed to be true to Christ, we pray:
-For the good people who help others in their difficulties, that their good deeds may bring them closer to the Lord, we pray: 

Prayer over the Gifts 
Lord our God, Jesus went the way of the cross because he was loyal to you whatever the cost. May we be loyal with him and accept crosses that come our way in life without rebellion or discouragement. May Christ give us this strength now, that we may live with him for ever.

Prayer after Communion 
Lord our God, by the strength of this Eucharist we return to our work and to people. Help us to live our faith consistently, as Christ wants us to live it, without compromise or bargaining. May Christ give us this strength of being loyal to his person now and for ever. 


Those who accept the difficulties of life to serve God and people, “who lose their life for my sake,” as Jesus says, are taking up their cross and following Christ. May almighty God bless them and us, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.