After all the intensity of yesterday, with more than 6,000 people here for ashes, the work of Lent begins today.
The First Reading, from Deuteronomy (30:15-20) sets a theme for Lent this year. It's all about choices!
In the verse before the selection, Moses tells us that the law that God has for us is not remote and far off; "No, it is something very near to you, already in your mouths and in your hearts; you have only to carry it out." Then he speaks of the choices we have: "life and prosperity, death and doom". Moses says it's simple: obey the commandments of the Lord, love Him, walk in His ways, and you will have life and be blessed. "If you turn away your hearts and will not listen ... you will perish. Now obedience is rooted in the Greek work for "hearing" and really is a kind of truly attuned and sensitive hearing that allows us to change and be changed as we listen to the Word of the Lord already present in out hearts. It's simple! And yet, year after year we are called to strive to do this thing so simple that eludes us (oops, me) all too easily. It's about choices!
"Today I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse.... Choose life!"
In the Gospel today (Luke 9:22-25), Jesus invites us to deny ourselves, and follow Him. It's about choices!