Intention: As Lent begins, we may accept God’s call to renew our hearts and ways so that we might be freed from all that binds us and find new life in his saving grace.
Today’s 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?”
A Lenten Reflection
Throughout his ministry, Christ challenged his disciples with the paradoxical call of losing your life in order to save it, of finding yourself by leaving yourself behind. It was a call that he made neither lightly nor abstractly, as the world would see when he answered it himself on Calvary.
In Christian spirituality, the act of emptying ourselves of our imperfect wills so as to be filled by the perfection of God’s is referred to as kenosis. Think of it as a letting go of self-delusion. We set aside our ego-driven and self-centered pretense of power and control, opening ourselves to being enlightened by God as to our true place and purpose in life.
Saint Francis of Assisi once wrote, “Above all the grace and the gifts that Christ gives to his beloved is that of overcoming self.” Lent is an invitation to kenosis. We are asked to discover the distance that exists between God’s ways and ours and then to begin the journey that will close that distance. We walk away from sinfulness and toward the light of God’s ways. Lent is a time to, with God’s grace, reclaim our best and truest selves.
Eternal Father, you sent your son to reconcile the world to you. In this time of Lent, we pray that we will learn how better to walk in your son’s footsteps of prayer, compassion, and justice. Help us to live all of our lives seeking to become more and more like Christ each day. May the grace with which he blessed us through his suffering and death become our gift to others through our humble service and love of all, especially those who are most in need. We ask this of you who lives and reigns with your Son and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen.