My church hosts small Eucharistic celebrations on week days. These intra-congregational gatherings follow a slightly altered version of the Western rite. I am one of several of the presiders who rotate responsibility. This has afforded me an opportunity to write many short homilies. These are brief and simple reflections on the texts of the day. This was the homily for yesterday.
Thursday after Ash Wednesday
Psalm 1:1-2, 3, 4, and 6
Moses’ speech to the people is full of rhetorical flare. He admonishes them to be faithful to the covenant which will result God’s blessing — the flourishing of his people. He warns them that if they turn away, they will be visited by death and doom. The vivid picture that Moses paints in this speech dispenses with the need for careful deliberation. The consequences may be difficult and far-reaching, but the choice is easy. Of the two ways that Moses speaks of — life and death; blessing and curse — only a fool would chose the way of death.
Then, moments later, we hear from Jesus.
And we find that Christ has radically changed the words of Moses. Christ admonishes his followers to choose death — to carry their crosses daily. Paradoxically, he tells us that the way to save our life is to follow in his example of giving ourselves over to the world, even allowing ourselves to be killed by them. That, he promises, is the true way of life.
As we begin this journey of Lent once again, we are reminded right at the beginning that the way of the Kingdom is utterly foreign to us. As we are surrounded by a culture that claims to strive after life and success, but is really seeking out death let us turn to Jesus and walk the path that he sets out for us. Let us heed his words to carry our crosses, because we know that it is him, and him alone who has the words of eternal life.