Good News Reflection:
On our Lenten road to greater holiness, with Jesus as our companion on the path of self-denial, we pass by those who are taking a different road. Both roads lead to death. One takes us through death to new life. The other is the deadly path of the world; the companions are addiction, greed, anger, and disobedience.
As Moses said in today’s first reading, by loving God, heeding his voice, and holding fast to him, we choose the path of life. Today’s Psalm points out that when we delight in the law of the Lord, we’re like a tree planted near running water — full of life, yielding good fruit, never withering; whatever we do in, through, and with the Lord always prospers.
Jesus says in the Gospel reading that on the life-giving journey of following him, we carry the cross of self-denial, i.e., we deny the desires that are contrary to God’s desires.
Fasting during Lent is meant to help with this. By saying no to eating foods that we desire, we grow stronger in the self-discipline that enables us to say no to more difficult temptations.
Giving in to stubborn sins or bad habits while putting off new, good habits is how we keep one foot on the wrong road. Even though we don’t believe that it’s destructive, it is destroying us. Sooner or later, we lose our balance and fall. In the first reading, God is pleading: “I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Choose life!”
Jesus longs to rescue us from our self-destructive curses. While he waits for us to humbly seek his help, he weeps for us, because he can see the damage that we’re causing with our lack of self-denial.
Think of someone you know who’s been self-destructive. Perhaps it’s a family member who’s sinking spiritually by no longer going to church, or a friend who needs therapy but is not seeking help. Why do you feel bad about it? Does it pain you to think of the harm that such people are doing to themselves? Of course it does! You care! Now multiply those feelings ten times, a thousand times, a gazillion times! That’s how much God feels pain, because God cares far more than you do. This is how much he cares about you.
The pain we suffer as we watch our loved ones continue down the wrong road feels even worse if we try to help them but are unable to redirect them onto the right path. God, too, keeps trying to help us avoid sin. He keeps trying to hold our hand and lead us farther down the path of life. But the choice is ours. “Choose life,” he pleads.
Holiness is a decision to obey God no matter what. This is easier to do when we remember that Jesus is eager to give us his supernatural help. We can’t succeed by our own efforts; it’s a partnership. When we follow Jesus, we are journeying with him.
To deepen your experience of Christ this Lent, see our Lenten videos, WordBytes, and meditations online at wordbytes.gnm.org/Lent/