prompt our actions with your inspiration we pray, O Lord, and further them with your constant help, that all we do may always begin from you and by you be brought to completion. Through our Lord.
“I set before you blessing and curse.”
A reading from the Book of Deuteronomy 30:15-20
Moses spoke to the people, saying, “See, I have set before you this day life and good, death and evil. If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you this day, by loving the Lord your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his ordinances, then you shall live and multiply, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land which you are entering to take possession of it. But if your heart tums away, and you will not hear, but are drawn away to worship other gods and serve them, I declare to you this day, that you shall perish; you shall not live long in the land which you are going over the Jordan to enter and possess. I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse; therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying his voice, and clinging to him; for that means life to you and length of days, that you may dwell in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.”
The word of the Lord.
RESPONSORIAL PSALM Psalm1:1-2.3.4and6(R.40:5ab)
R/. Blessed the man who has placed his trust in the Lord.
Blessed indeed is the man
Who follows not the counsel of the wicked,
Nor stands in the path with sinners,
Nor abides in the company of scorners,
But whose delight is the law of the Lord,
And who ponders his law day and night. R/.
He is like a tree that is planted
Beside the flowing waters,
That yields its fruit in due season,
And whose leaves shall never fade;
and all that he does shall prosper. R/.
Not so are the wicked, not so!
For they, like winnowed chaff,
Shall be driven away by the wind.
For the Lord knows the way of the just,
but the way of the wicked will perish. R
VERSE BEFORE THE GOSPEL Matthew 4:17
Glory and praise to you, O Christ.
Repent, says the Lord, for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand.
Glory and praise to you, O Christ.
“Whoever loses his life for my sake, he will save it.”
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Luke 9:22-25
At that time: Jesus said to his disciples, “The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.” And he said to all, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake, he will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?”
The Gospel of the Lord.
I guess you may have heard the saying that: God who made you without your cooperation will not save you without your cooperation. Dear friends, life is a matter of choice. Every choice and every decision we take has a price as well as a prize. There is something to gain and something to lose. In the book of Deuteronomy, Moses tells us that God has set before us life/good and death/evil, blessings and curses. If you choose to serve God and obey his commandments, “You shall live and multiply, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land.”
But if you ignore God and go against his commands; “You shall perish, you shall not live long in the land….” In other words, there is a good choice and a bad choice. We are free to choose but we are not free to avoid the consequences of our choices. I have come to realize that the best choices are usually those that appear more painful at the onset. Choices which demand a lot of sacrifice and pain from us initially end up becoming our saving grace in the end. This is exactly what Jesus wants to bear in mind when he says: “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me for whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake, he will save it.”
Jesus is literally asking us to choose life, not earthly life but eternal life, the greater life that never ends and this great life demands death to worldliness, death to the worship of money and material things. Self-denial is saying “No” to your flesh. Another word for self-denial is self-discipline. It is taking control of your inner man. It is refusing to allow your flesh and its desires drive you into sin like a donkey running hard to get a carrot it sees not knowing the carrot is attached to its nose.
No one ever became great without self discipline. Choose life today by taking up your cross.