Thursday after Ash Wednesday

There’s a serious contradiction between our two readings today. If I might paraphrase, the first says choose life and the second choose death. That’s pretty stark. The first is offering a long life, a long stay in the land, and long prosperity. The gospel can only offer pain and death but with them companionship … if anyone wants to be a follower of mine … let him renounce himself, take up his cross daily and follow me.
Renunciation, loss, and the cross make no sense at all apart from Jesus and apart from his story. A cross for you and a cross for me would be blasphemous if there hadn’t been a cross for Jesus. What we need to ponder this Lent is why Jesus himself ended up on his cross. Where did the pain in his life come from? Why did it end for him the way it did? Was it because he chose death or because he chose life?

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