February 26: Thursday after Ash Wednesday

Gustav Klimt, Life and Death, Collection of Frau Marietta Preleuthner, Vienna, Revised 1915

Readings for Mass
First Reading: Deuteronomy 30:15-20
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 1:1-2, 3, 4, 6
Gospel: Luke 9:22-25

I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses (NRSV, Dt 30:19a).

Let us pray.

Father, in the Book of Deuteronomy, Moses says that he set before the people two choices, life and death, and challenged them to choose life. As your people emerged from slavery in Egypt into freedom in the desert, they understood, as best they could, that you were leading them into the land that was to be theirs. When they and Moses thought of “life,” what they projected was ongoing life, not for the individual, but for the people in the land. “Death” meant death in the desert, the promise lost. Moses challenged them to choose life!

In the resurrection of your Son Jesus, we have learned, Lord, that from the very beginning you have not only offered us life that is more than just physical life here on earth, even life as a people in the land, you have offered us a share in your own divine life. That offer has been made to every human being in his mother’s womb. The acceptance of that offer, saying “yes,” to you, Father, offering us your Spirit through the Word, is what makes us to be human beings. To be human is already to be on the journey to everlasting life shared with you in the world to come, a gift that begins with the very first “yes” in the womb and continues to grow forever with each additional “yes” made in each moment.

Choosing death, Father, is far more than denying ourselves the possibility of a future as a people in the land. Choosing death, turning away from you, Lord, and succumbing to the web of evil that surrounds and ensnares us all, and to our own self-gratification, is to deny our very nature. It is to deny who we are and who we are called to be.

Father, how grateful we are for the gift of divine life that you share with us. May we be responsive in every moment to your Word, ever present to us, who invites us to grow in your gift, and if we have turned away, implores us to repent and to say “yes” to forgiveness and new life.

Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

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