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Lenten Reflection: Thursday After Ash Wednesday

Published: February 23, 2023

Written by Sr. Maureen Martin, ASCJ

Today's first reading and responsorial psalm tell us to choose life that you may live…you will be like a tree planted near running water that continues to prosper and flourish. That sounds wonderful! Who among us does not desire to prosper, to be successful?

All that’s required of us is “loving the Lord your God, heeding his voice, and holding fast to Him” (Dt. 30:20). That sounds easy enough. But as we see time and time again in Scripture, even the apostles found this difficult. They had chosen to follow the Lord, remaining close to him, listening to his voice, yet how often did Christ sigh and challenge, “Do you still not understand?”

Christ’s message in today’s gospel is sobering: He must “suffer greatly…be rejected…and killed” before rising upon the third day. To follow me, He tells his disciples, you must deny yourself, take up your cross and follow where I go. No wonder the apostles did not understand. How can any of us understand this paradox?

St. Paul helps us enter into this mystery. In Colossians 1:24 he reveals a key: “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church.” Paul flourishes in spite of suffering, exclaiming “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.”

Lord, let us turn from ourselves this Lent. Help us flourish, like Paul, by serving others with the enthusiasm that flows from your life-giving Spirit.

Sr. Maureen Martin is the director of the FAITH Alive in the Home program for the Archdiocese of St. Louis.

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