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Going Deeper – Gospel Reflections

Readings for Thursday 2/18/2021

Reading I

Moses said to the people:
“Today I have set before you
life and prosperity, death and doom.
If you obey the commandments of the LORD, your God,
which I enjoin on you today,
loving him, and walking in his ways,
and keeping his commandments, statutes and decrees,
you will live and grow numerous,
and the LORD, your God,
will bless you in the land you are entering to occupy.
If, however, you turn away your hearts and will not listen,
but are led astray and adore and serve other gods,
I tell you now that you will certainly perish;
you will not have a long life
on the land that you are crossing the Jordan to enter and occupy.
I call heaven and earth today to witness against you:
I have set before you life and death,
the blessing and the curse.
Choose life, then,
that you and your descendants may live, by loving the LORD, your God,
heeding his voice, and holding fast to him.
For that will mean life for you,
a long life for you to live on the land that the LORD swore
he would give to your fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.”

Responsorial Psalm

R.    (40:5a)  Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.
Blessed the man who follows not
the counsel of the wicked
Nor walks in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the company of the insolent,
But delights in the law of the LORD
and meditates on his law day and night.
R.    Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.
He is like a tree
planted near running water,
That yields its fruit in due season,
and whose leaves never fade.
Whatever he does, prospers.
R.    Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.
Not so the wicked, not so;
they are like chaff which the wind drives away.
For the LORD watches over the way of the just,
but the way of the wicked vanishes.
R.    Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.

Verse before the Gospel

Repent, says the Lord;
the Kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Gospel

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?”

Deep Love Casts Out Fear

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.” Luke 9:22

Jesus knew He would suffer greatly, be rejected and killed. How would you deal with that knowledge if you somehow knew this about your own future? Most people would be filled with fear and become obsessed with trying to avoid it. But not our Lord. This passage above shows just how intent He was on embracing His Cross with unwavering confidence and courage.

This is just one of several times that Jesus began to break the news to His disciples about His pending fate. And each time He spoke this way, the disciples for the most part remained either silent or in denial. Recall, for example, one such reaction of Saint Peter when he responded to Jesus’ prediction of His Passion by saying, “God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you” (Matthew 16:22).

In reading this passage above, the strength, courage and determination of our Lord shine through by the fact that He speaks so clearly and definitively. And what motivates Jesus to speak with such conviction and courage is His love.

Too often, “love” is understood as a strong and good feeling. It’s perceived as an attraction to something or a strong liking of it. But that’s not love in the truest form. True love is a choice to do what is best for another, no matter the cost, no matter how difficult. True love is not a feeling that seeks selfish fulfillment. True love is an unwavering strength that seeks only the good of the person who is loved.

Jesus’ love for humanity was so strong that He was driven toward His pending death with great power. He was unwaveringly determined to sacrifice His life for us all, and there was nothing that would ever deter Him from that mission.

In our own lives, it’s easy to lose sight of what true love actually is. We can easily become caught up in our own selfish desires and think that these desires are love. But they are not.

Reflect, today, upon the unwavering determination of our Lord to sacrificially love us all by suffering greatly, by enduring rejection, and by dying upon the Cross. Nothing could have ever deterred Him from this love. We must show the same sacrificial love.

My loving Lord, I thank You for Your unwavering commitment to sacrifice Yourself for us all. I thank You for this unfathomable depth of true love. Give me the grace I need, dear Lord, to turn away from all forms of selfish love so as to imitate and participate in Your most perfect sacrificial love. I do love You, dear Lord. Help me to love You and others with all my heart. Jesus, I trust in You.

Source of content: mycatholic.life