What profit is there for someone to gain the whole world yet lose or forfeit himself.
Thursday after Ash Wednesday Prayer and Meditation – Luke 9:25
What profit is there for someone to gain the whole world yet lose or forfeit himself? – Luke 9:25
On day two of the Lenten journey, the Thursday after Ash Wednesday, we are focused on and challenged to turn away from worldly idols such as temporal successes, power, money, and materialistic things. While this notion (command!) sounds good and noble – and it is – most of us know that it’s anything but easy to do.
We are brought up in a world that bombards us on every side with temptation, distraction, and meaningless “stuff.” Thus, we don’t know any other way of being but worldly … if we don’t have God. In other words, in order for us to do what God has asked and turn away from worldly idols, we must make a conscious effort to choose another way. And we cannot do it alone. We need God’s help – His grace – to do it. The good news is, there is another way!
On this second day of Lent, ask God for the grace to choose the way of Christ – the narrow path which is contrary to the world and leads to eternal life. When you pray like this, God will answer you. And when God answers, everything begins to change for the better. For one, you will begin to feel more confident and less worried about the things out of your control. You’ll also begin to think less of temporal things and more of eternal ones.
The truth is, we cannot know God, ourselves, or His divine purpose for our lives if we continue to follow the roadmap of the world. Divine guidance is revealed to us when we throw away the world’s map and tap into the divine one preprogrammed into our heart. If trusted through faith, this divine compass will navigate us successfully through this life and all the way into the eternal one.
Today’s Gospel states clearly that the way of Christ is the way of the Cross. There is no other way. There is no short cut. And the way of the Cross requires suffering (welcome to Lent!). This is because true discipleship of Christ comes at a cost. Just look at how His apostles suffered in order to rightly follow Him! They gave up everything, even their own lives. Notice also how suffering is not the way of the world. To the contrary, in the world suffering and success (the victory) cannot co-exist. But in God’s economy, the Lord invites us onto the narrow path of Calvary – surrender, sacrifice, and penance – the only path leading to the resurrection and eternal victory.
As you take another step forward into the lenten desert, listen for the gentle voice of God inviting you to see things in a new way – His way – a way contrary to the world but one that leads to a new and better way both here and in the Heavenly realm to come.
Does today’s Gospel message spark a little discomfort? Jesus’ admonition that we take up our cross daily is challenging no doubt – but it is also non-negotiable. Giving up our way for Jesus’ will requires change; and this change leads to transformation. While the path of Christ is indeed narrow and challenging, it is a possible path to follow and the only one that leads to freedom. Remember that when you do your part for God He promises to do His, and that’s when things get interesting. It’s literally what miracles are made of.
Father Almighty, give us the courage to listen to You and to carry our cross with strength and perseverance. Help us to view suffering not as empty pain as the world does, but as the pathway to a deeper understanding of You and our total dependance on You. May this Lent be a time of fervent prayer and continuous self-denial. A time of transformation as our desires become more intimately united to Yours, Your divine will, and to the beautiful sacred heart of Your Son Jesus. Amen.
Today’s suggested Penance
Offer your day for the intentions of another person whose name you promise to keep in prayer all day long.
“How sweet the presence of Jesus for the longing, harassed soul! It is instant peace and balm to every wound” – Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton.