Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Whatever we lose shall be returned to us a thousand times over (Reflections on the Thursday after Ash Wednesday, Lk. 9:22-25)

With all the talk of self-denial and giving things up this season, it is possible to sometimes lose sight of the reason behind our practices and observances of Lent.

Today’s gospel reminds us that the many forms of self-denial we undertake during Lent are not done simply for their own sake. As Jesus tells us, albeit in a somewhat roundabout way, we deny ourselves and lose our self because it is the only sure way by which we can really keep it.

"What does it profit us to gain the whole world and lose our soul in the process?”

What is implied by the question, of course, is that by losing the whole world, we gain our soul for all eternity. It is by losing the world’s hold on us that we gain much more than what this temporary and imperfect world promises. We gain everlasting life.

The surprising thing about being Christ’s disciple is that when we follow him and deny ourselves, we don’t end up losing ourselves, instead we find that self even more.

The forty days of Lent which we have just begun will end, not with the defeat and sorrow of the cross on Good Friday, but with the victory and glory of the resurrection on Easter. Whatever we lose, Christ will return to us a thousand times over.

"The Kingdom of Heaven is a condition of the heart." (Friedrich Nietzsche)