By Lynda MacFarland
If anyone wants to come after Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me. ~ Mark 8:34
Most of us don’t like to think about or talk about death or suffering. But you know who spoke about those topics fairly regularly? Jesus.
He also spoke of life, eternal life. But when He talked about life on this earth, it was to say it will not be easy. It includes, among other things, taking up our crosses to follow Him.
“Remember you are dust, and to dust, you shall return” or “Repent and believe in the Gospel” are the words the priest, deacon, or other ministers recite as they rub ashes in the sign of the cross on our foreheads.
So begins our Lenten journey each year. As we embark on our 40 plus days toward the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, we are asked to recall our deaths and His. Believing in the Gospel means we believe we will die and be raised again on the last day. The minister of the ashes typically imposes them in the shape of the cross symbolic of the one upon which Jesus died. The ashes remind us of the human condition of the sinner, and there truly is no escaping the fact that death is part of life for all of us.
Repenting means to turn away from sin and toward God—wholeheartedly. Whatever God wills for our lives, whatever crosses we bear on the way to eternity, we go where God sends us. And we try, Lord, how we try, to do so reverently and with the dignity, You have bestowed upon us as your beloved children. Sometimes, too often, in my case, we fail. We need to ask for forgiveness and the grace to change our lives. We owe that to Jesus.
God became man to save us. We’re eternally grateful for Easter; however, what begins today will come to a climax on Good Friday. Let us move forward today — prayerfully, gratefully, even perhaps tearfully toward Good Friday.
Lord Jesus, give us the grace we need this Lenten season to bring all our burdens and sins to the foot of Your cross where Divine Mercy, realized in Your sacrifice that gives us everlasting life, awaits us. Amen.
Call to Action
How will I turn to God during this Lenten season?
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