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I Choose a Simpler, Deeper Life

First Reading: Deuteronomy 30:15-20

Moses said to the people:
“Today I have set before you
life and prosperity, death and doom.
If you obey the commandments of the LORD, your God,
which I enjoin on you today,
loving him, and walking in his ways,
and keeping his commandments, statutes and decrees,
you will live and grow numerous,
and the LORD, your God,
will bless you in the land you are entering to occupy.
If, however, you turn away your hearts and will not listen,
but are led astray and adore and serve other gods,
I tell you now that you will certainly perish;
you will not have a long life
on the land that you are crossing the Jordan to enter and occupy.
I call heaven and earth today to witness against you:
I have set before you life and death,
the blessing and the curse.
Choose life, then,
that you and your descendants may live, by loving the LORD, your God,
heeding his voice, and holding fast to him.
For that will mean life for you,
a long life for you to live on the land that the LORD swore
he would give to your fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.”

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 1:1-2, 3, 4 AND 6

R. (40:5a) Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.
Blessed the man who follows not
the counsel of the wicked
Nor walks in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the company of the insolent,
But delights in the law of the LORD
and meditates on his law day and night.
R. Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.
He is like a tree
planted near running water,
That yields its fruit in due season,
and whose leaves never fade.
Whatever he does, prospers.
R. Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.
Not so the wicked, not so;
they are like chaff which the wind drives away.
For the LORD watches over the way of the just,
but the way of the wicked vanishes.
R. Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.

Gospel: Luke 9:22-25

Jesus said to his disciples:
“The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected
by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes,
and be killed and on the third day be raised.”

Then he said to all,
“If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself
and take up his cross daily and follow me.
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.
What profit is there for one to gain the whole world
yet lose or forfeit himself?”

NAB

feb 11

Today’s readings are so beautiful in their simplicity. The First Reading instructs us as to the clear and simple choice that God provides us with—choose life or choose to perish. If we follow His commandments we will live and grow numerous and be blessed. Sounds good to me!

In the Gospel, Jesus tells us that the choice is not quite so simple.

“If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” Daily? You mean following those 10 commandments isn’t enough? I thought I was doing pretty well just by avoiding murder and adultery and all that.

Leave it to Jesus to point out the complexities of life! We have to make the choice daily. We have to deny ourselves and lose our lives for His sake. That is a much heftier commitment.

Lent is such a time for us to hone those skills of self-denial and self-control through simple daily decisions. While it’s tempting to list off lofty spiritual and physical goals, I find that to implement simple, meaningful ones with my family is hard enough during these 40 days as I grumble without my daily crutches (coffee, chocolate, wine).

I want more of my spiritual life, but like a famished child at a buffet. I take on more than I can handle, and end up unsatisfied with a spiritual tummy-ache. Somehow I don’t think that is what Jesus meant when He said we were to lose our lives for His sake. Our lives, but not our minds!

This Lent I am striving for practical simplicity and accountability: daily prayer along with our Blessed is She devotion readings, increased giving, and Friday fasting. It isn’t much, but it is doable and sustainable. I am trying to look upward and inward, not outward.

Jesus knows your heart and your love for him. You don’t have to prove it to Him with grand gestures. Rather give Him your life, take up your cross daily, and turn yourself over to Him in small meaningful ways.

What will you do, realistically, with your Lenten journey? Are your Lenten commitments sustainable and meaningful?

photo credit

MaryRuth Hackett is a full-time wife and mother doing her best to teach her four children to love God and country. You can find out more about her here

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