Reflection for Thursday, March 3, 2022: Thursday after Ash Wednesday.

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Braddock, Suzanne
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|The readings today as we enter the holy time of Lent struck me at first as opposite instructions. Moses giving the people the admonition to choose life. Assuring them a long life if they but follow the instructions he lays out: love God, walk in his ways, keep his commandments, statutes and decrees. Love the Lord, your God, heed his voice, hold fast to him and that will mean long life for you.|The responsorial psalm further spells it out clearly. Delight in the law of the Lord and meditate on it day and night and all will be well for you. Again a clear distinction between right and wrong. Not so the wicked. Almost makes it easy to be in God's good graces. Just follow the laws he has laid down.|We all know that Jesus came not to abolish the law but to fulfill it. Again he turns the tables to present not a different truth but a deeper one.  You must lose your life to save it. What? The Messiah his disciples hoped for will suffer greatly, be rejected by those in authority, even be KILLED! Not what the disciples envisioned for their Messiah at all.  I think perhaps they were so puzzled, even shocked to hear those words that they forgot the last ones: and on the third day be raised.|Jesus follows with the clincher: "If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life FOR MY SAKE will save it."|No concrete rules to follow, just give your whole self!|For me, losing my life for the Lord means shedding all those idols that, like barnacles, cling to me and weigh me down. Idols like desire for success, health, a long life, possessions, admiration of others.|Both Moses and Jesus refer to giving our hearts to the Lord. When we truly love we in a sense lose our life. We are totally given over to the beloved. We live for the one we love. We cling to the Lord and not the idols hidden in our lives-those barnacles that weigh us down.|As Buddhist nun Pema Chodron says, "you are the sky, all the rest is just the weather."|I try to picture myself an empty sky ready to be filled with God's love for me and mine for God. Leave the idols behind. Simple and oh, so difficult.
University Ministry, Creighton University.
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