My parish puts out a daily Lenten reflection booklet with passages meant to help us ponder the day’s readings. This year I wrote three of the reflections. Here’s my first one. It’s based on Luke 9:22-25.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells us, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” Well, who on earth wants to take up a cross? They’re heavy, cumbersome, and painful. They slow down our progress on the path we want to take, but perhaps that’s the very point. I have all sorts of plans, but God keeps sending me these crosses–unwelcome illnesses, sudden requests for help from friends and family, added expectations at work—that keep getting in the way of what I want to accomplish.
And that’s when I’m forced to remember the first part of Jesus’s directive. If I’m going to follow Him, I first need to deny myself. As the band Mercy Me sings in their song “So Long Self,” I have to say good-bye to me: “Well, it’s been fun, but I have found somebody else.” That somebody else, of course, is Jesus. And if I really want to follow Him, I have to keep “turning outward” as Pope Francis has been reminding us to do: to deny myself, to turn toward others, and to pick up whatever cross God asks me to bear today.
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The reflection booklet obviously doesn’t include video, but that doesn’t mean I can’t include video in my blog post version! Here’s the video from the song I mentioned by Mercy Me. It’s kind of a silly spoof on the idea of saying good-bye to yourself, but I still really like it.
Got any other great songs that put you in the mood for Lent?