Thursday, February 18, 2010

Thursday after Ash Wednesday

“I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse.” It's a choice common to the Old and New Covenants, and today we hear the terms of both. Moses, speaking on God's behalf to Israel, lays out the terms very simply and clearly. Obey God's commandments; love Him and walk in His ways; if you do so He will bless you and you will prosper in the Promised Land. If you turn aside from His way to follow other gods, you will perish. Not easy to carry out, Israel will yet fail time and again - but clearly stated.

Christ, in speaking of the New Covenant, turns that basic choice on its head. To walk in His way is to follow Him to the Cross. Saving your life is losing it; losing your life is saving it. There's no sense in it but there it is. It's been pointed out that of the Apostles, the only one who did not face martyrdom was also the only one who stood beneath the Cross. Christ was not speaking only to the Apostles, though, but to all: we all face the same choice, and we face it not once only, but daily. It comes in moments and encounters so small we hardly notice them at all, nor know the effect they have. Sometimes the way to the Cross leads us to other towns and lands, as when Christ left Israel for Samaria. More often, we need only follow Him down our own street, we need only look around us in our ordinary day-to-day.

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