By Fr. David Foxen, MSC
What are you doing for Lent, which usually means what are you giving up for Lent? In this way Lent sometimes feels like getting into shape spiritually. Instead of cutting back on sugars and sticking to an exercise routine, we make a commitment to give up something we enjoy or spend extra effort in prayer or trying to be more patient. And didn’t Jesus say that those who want to follow him should deny themselves, take up their cross daily, and follow him?
Doesn’t that sound, well, rather gloomy? Moses had challenged the people to choose life and Jesus is talking about losing one’s life to save it. The answer to the dilemma is found in the Gospel’s insight into the meaning of the cross. The cross is not a symbol of meaningless suffering but of compassion and healing. The way of the cross is the way of life. Lent is not as much a time for self-discipline as it is for promoting new life. The cross is the sign of Christ’s compassion which he lived each day of his life as he healed, encouraged, forgave, reconciled, and proclaimed the Kingdom for all. The path which Jesus walked does involve sacrifice, as does the journey of the disciple. But it is a journey of life, ever new and ever renewed.