15 February – Thursday after Ash Wednesday
Moses said to the people: ‘See, today I set before you life and prosperity, death and disaster. If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I enjoin on you today, if you love the Lord your God and follow his ways, if you keep his commandments, his laws, his customs, you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land which you are entering to make your own. But if your heart strays, if you refuse to listen, if you let yourself be drawn into worshipping other gods and serving them, I tell you today, you will most certainly perish; you will not live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess. I call heaven and earth to witness against you today: I set before you life or death, blessing or curse. Choose life, then, so that you and your descendants may live, in the love of the Lord your God, obeying his voice, clinging to him; for in this your life consists, and on this depends your long stay in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob he would give them.’
Jesus said to his disciples: ‘The Son of Man is destined to suffer grievously, to be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes and to be put to death, and to be raised up on the third day.’
Then to all he said, ‘If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross every day and follow me. For anyone who wants to save his life will lose it; but anyone who loses his life for my sake, that man will save it. What gain, then, is it for a man to have won the whole world and to have lost or ruined his very self?’
Choose life, then, that you and your descendants may live, by loving the Lord, your God
Abraham Lincoln said, “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”
A lot has been said recently about people in powerful positions who abused those positions for their own personal gain, be it for sexual pleasure or financial riches, or position. When news of that breaks, it grips society, no less because these are usually people elected to office, trusted by people, seen as mentors and leaders, loved by others. There is a sense of betrayal because we had, more often than not, held this person in high esteem, and he/she did not turn out to our expectations.
In a sort of twisted sense of reality, sometimes we try to justify that person’s change in character. Perhaps he was arm-twisted into the situation, or that such a position of power is stressful hence leading to this change. The sad reality is that sometimes we accept it as ‘normal’ behaviour and close an eye to it, or even blame ourselves for it, especially for personal encounters. Each of us are called to account for our own conduct here on earth. Our job is not to justify or feel guilty for the conduct of others, but to pray for those who have disappointed us and have gone askew.
God gives authority over men to those whom He chooses. He anoints rulers, gives wealth to those whom He pleases. Yet He who bestows can also take it away. The Bible is dotted with anecdotes of seemingly ordinary people who were chosen by God to lead His people because they were upright and of good character, God-fearing and honourable. Their moral compass would serve as the people’s guide. Yet some of them, when they had power, misaligned their moral compass, and in so doing turned away from God. As God did with David when David killed Uriah the Hittite, so can God do with the people whom He has elected to power and position.
Jesus reminds us in today’s Gospel that there is no profit for those who gain the whole world but in so doing, lose themselves. What legacy would we leave for our family, and those whom we serve? It is not an easy journey to follow God — Jesus tells us that we would have to endure our own crosses. But if we love God whole-heartedly, it makes our daily crosses easier to bear. God’s love will also provide us the ‘true north’ for our own moral compasses, ensuring that we choose life, an everlasting life with God.
(Today’s Oxygen by Annette Soo)
Prayer: Lord, help us to make the daily decisions in our lives that choose a life with you, and give us the strength for the way.
Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord, for being our guide in life’s journey, for bringing us back to the path when we have gone astray.