Deuteronomy 30:15-20; Luke 9:22-25
“Whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.” -- Luke 9
In two paragraphs, today’s Gospel gives us a summary of the life of following Jesus. It will not always be easy and it requires living in a different way than others in the world.
Christian history is filled with people who sacrificed their lives for their faith, but for most of us, “losing our life” does not mean physical dying as we try to live out this life as followers of Jesus. The way most of us “lose our life” is much less dramatic, much less memorable, much more … everyday. How area we being asked to give ourselves away in the here and now?
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of our Lenten journey with Christ, when we walk the road to Jerusalem; the road that leads to the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Our Saviour. It is a time for reflection and for action; a time for faith and works. We do not journey alone, and it is fitting that we begin together marked by the sign of sinfulness and of hope: the ashes. ‘Remember that you are dust and to dust you will return’. In these words of Genesis we are reminded of our mortality, a mortality we owe to sin; however, we are also reminded that from the ashes of death we will rise to a new life, a life everlasting. From darkness comes light; from death there is life; these ashes represent the seed ground from which we can be born anew.
In today’s gospel reading we see Jesus as teacher and our attention is drawn to teaching. Just as the job of a teacher is often a very difficult one today, so our Lord’s teaching job was a difficult one. His pupils, the disciples, were mostly mature men and women long past their childhood. Most of them had not had much formal schooling. They were not ideal pupils and teaching them was not always easy. There was no classroom and there was none of our modern teaching equipment and technology. The teaching of Jesus was done in the open air and subject to many distractions for the pupils. The teaching was often done, as here, while the group traveled on foot. Such obstacles were frustrating for Jesus. He sometimes expressed his frustration with his pupils, especially with their slow progress in acquiring the virtue of faith.
From February 15-22, 2020, in Kibeho, Rwanda, the 4th Regional Chapter was held under the theme Reconciliation with God - 2 Cor 5,20. The Chapter gathered 15 sisters delegates who, during the meeting, working in groups and praying, discussed the most important matters of the Region. From the General Councillors took part in the Chapter: Sr. Anna Małdrzykowska and Sr. Liberata Nyiongira.
James 3:13-18; Psalm 19:8, 9, 10, 15; Mark 9:14-29
If you read the Gospel of Mark straight through—a revealing exercise, if you have never tried it—you will notice that the disciples of Jesus come across as particularly dense, especially in chapters 8 through 10. They simply don’t “get it.” They are spiritually blind and deaf. “Do you have eyes and not see, ears and not hear?” Jesus asks at 8:18. And the next two and a half chapters seem designed to illustrate exactly that. Three times, Jesus speaks of his coming death and resurrection, and each time the disciples respond in an inappropriate, self-preoccupied manner. And each time, as well, Jesus tries, once again, to teach them that following him requires that they let go of their efforts to “save themselves” and begin to serve one another. Today’s reading gives another specimen of their ineptness.
Leviticus 19:1-2, 17-18; 1 Corinthians 3:16-23; Matthew 5:38-48
The Crucifixion, detail, Matthias Grunewald
1. Revenge or Justice. “An eye for an eye…” - Revenge has a tantalizing attraction. Oh, how we enjoy those movies where the down-and-out hero suddenly gets the upper hand, pays back all of the evil the villain has been inflicting on others, and justice prevails. But is this really justice? Jesus speaks clearly: “But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil.” Our virtue must go beyond that of the Scribes and the Pharisees.
1 Peter 5:1-4; Matthew 16:13-19
As with the feast of the Lateran Basilica, today’s feast is actually a papal feast. We are celebrating the church’s unity in the bishop of Rome, the pope. The Latin word for chair is cathedra, from which we draw the English word cathedral. A cathedral is a bishop’s church in which the bishop sits in his capacity as shepherd of a local diocese. When he sits on his cathedra in his cathedral the bishop symbolically presents and protects the unity of the local church over which he presides.
Apostleship calls for a generous response. We are not sure what is in store for us. The crosses that we take up may be various. There may be major challenges presented to us. There may also be seemingly lesser crosses which are frustrating and vexatious. One such cross might be the acceptance of my own limitations.
The life of Simon Peter, the Apostle, is a wonderful story about human nature. He is so much like each of us. He knows his limitations and past unfaithfulness early on in his relationship with Jesus. In his boat by the lakeside he begs Jesus, “Leave me Lord. I am a sinful man.” Again at the Last Supper he tells our Lord: “You shall never wash my feet!” “If I do not wash you, you will have no part in my heritage. Then my hands and head as well.” It’s a humble Peter growing in self-knowledge.
(The language select in options *)
Blessed Elisabetta Sanna (full name Elisabetta Sanna Porcu) (23 April 1788 – 17 February 1857) was an Italian Roman Catholic from Codrongianos Province of Sassari who was an active member of both the Secular Franciscan Order and the Union of the Catholic Apostolate. In the latter she was a friend and compatriot of Saint Vincenzo Pallotti. As a result of smallpox, Sanna was for the most part disabled and further ailments prevented her from returning to her hometown after departing on a pilgrimage; this forced her to take up residence in Rome where she later died.