FEB. 18. LENT. THU AFTER ASH WED. LK. 9. 22-25.
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?’
At the start of Lent the readings are making clear to us the need for Christians to endure suffering, but Christ is not asking us to do that without first walking ahead of us, and enduring sufferings far greater than anything he asks of us.
And we need to acknowledge this simple truth. Yes, we do endure sufferings, but they can only be called “insignificant” when compared to the sufferings of our Saviour! And yet we complain loudly about these light sufferings, and yearn for them to be removed?
In this reading Christ is looking ahead to the sufferings he knows he has to endure, but there is no sense of complaint or not proceeding; - and the reason for this is his only desire is to do the Will of God; - and we need to learn from this truth; - his “only” desire!
If our “only” desire is the Will of God the sufferings he sends us, or asks us to endure, will not worry us; - as these are the sufferings marked out for us, in the same way Christ’s sufferings were marked out for him . How easy we “forget” our “desire” to do God’s Will?
The sad aspect of our desire is we want to do the Will of God; - but only when it accords with our own wishes; - and this is where our Love of God collapses! We are reluctant to embrace his will when it is not in accord with our own?
Our “Love” has become a conditional Love: - the condition being we do not have to suffer! But this is not the Love we are called to imitate; - “‘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!” That is the expression of an unconditional love!
And Christ does not try to “water down” the sufferings he wants us to endure, in fact he makes a point of stressing how important it is we embrace them; - “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.
There is nothing vague about this teaching; - “Anyone who wants to save his life will lose it” is a clear warning to anyone who puts his own will before the Will of God! So what God is asking of us at the beginning of Lent is generosity in embracing the trials and sufferings he sends us; - or permits us to endure!
And, if we heeded this message, most of our trials and sufferings would disappear! Why? Because a common cause of our sufferings is the fact they are caused by our not wanting to endure any sufferings, difficulties, or trials; - an attitude directly opposed to that of Christ!