Wednesday, February 25, 2009


February 26, 2009

Thursday after Ash Wednesday

Here, then, I have today 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. Deuteronomy 30:15-16

“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.” Luke 9:23-24


Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding and my entire will, All I have and call my own. You have given all to me. To you, Lord, I return it. Everything is yours; do with it what you will. Give me only your love and your grace. That is enough for me. Amen. (St. Ignatius of Loyola)


Note the difference between how Mark relates this idea and how Luke characterizes Christian life.

Mark: He summoned the crowd with his disciples and said to them, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it.” Mark 8:34-35

Luke: 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.” Luke 9:23-24

The common elements are self-denial (like Jesus did in the desert); acceptance of the cross (like Jesus did on Good Friday) and obedience (like Jesus urged his disciples). Yet Luke adds something. Daily. Every day.

With the addition of these two syllables, Luke transforms this saying from one which compares Christian life to the overall suffering and death of Jesus to a saying that focuses sharply on the demands of daily Christian existence.

Picking up your cross is not a once in a lifetime exercise. Self-denial is not something just for the forty days of Lent. Following Jesus is not just for the easy things He asks of us. These are demands of daily Christian life.


Think about that recent movie with Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman, “The Bucket List.” This was a list of things each man wanted to do before he kicked the proverbial bucket. What is on your list?

  1. Run away for a day and join the circus.
  2. Ride a gondola in Venice, a bicycle in Beijing, a 2CV in France and the Ferris Wheel in London, visit Cuba and have a beer during Oktoberfest (in Germany of course!)
  3. Get the backstage pass for the New Orleans Jazz Fest.
  4. Ride in space…and maybe walk in space with that “Buck Rodgers” backpack.
  5. See Stonehenge, Piazza San Marco, Piazza San Pietro, The Acropolis, The Alhambra, the pyramids, the Kremlin, the Sydney Opera House, the Galapagos, and Easter Island.
  6. See museums like El Prado, The Uffizi Gallery, The Hermitage, The Louvre in Paris, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and The Van Gogh Museum.
  7. See the Seven Wonders of the World (Machu Picchu, Peru; The Coliseum in Rome; Petra, Jordan; Christ Redeemer, Brazil; The Great Wall of China; Chichen Itza, Mexico; The Taj Mahal, India).
  8. Visit all 50 states and see sites like the Baseball Hall of Fame Museum and Library, Disney World/Land, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Pike Place Market in Seattle, Mount Rushmore, the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, the Washington Monument, the Jefferson Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, Faneuil Hall Marketplace, and Waikiki Beach, Oahu, Hawaii.
  9. See the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, Halloween on Duval Street, the St. Patrick's Day Parade, the White House Easter Egg Roll, the Mummers Parade, the Rose Bowl Parade and the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
  10. Learn to juggle.
  11. Read the top 100 books on your personal reading list and the top spiritual classics (St, John of the Cross, St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Theresa of Avila, St. Therese of Lisieux, and more).
  12. Study music.
  13. Get a Ph.D.
  14. Join the Peace Corps (or similar volunteer program)
  15. Master Esquires list of “The 75 Skills Every Man Should Master”
  16. Watch the greatest American movies of all time (Citizen Kane, Casablanca, The Godfather, Gone with the Wind, Lawrence of Arabia, The Wizard of Oz, The Graduate, On the Waterfront, Schindler's List, Singin' in the Rain, Fiddler on the Roof, and The Sound of Music). And then do the same for cinema from Japan, Italy, India and other nations.
  17. Milk a cow, ride a camel, mush a dog sled, and watch sea turtles hatch.
  18. Attend La Scala of Milan, a Bryant Park Fashion Week, Wimbledon, the Kentucky Derby, a Paul Simon concert, Carnegie Hall, a session of the US Supreme Court, the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race, the launch of a manned spaceflight at Cape Canaveral and ride on the Orient Express.
  19. Live in a house by the side of the road and be a friend to all. (Hopefully the beach won’t be too far away either.). Add a sauna and pool to the backyard.
  20. Create a foundation and give away everything I have been collecting.
  21. Visit the Abbey of Gethsemane, the Holy Land, Tibet, and Kyoto.
  22. Complete a 30-day retreat on the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius.

That was fun but put away the bucket list. Jesus did not say that picking up your cross is only a once-in-a-lifetime thing. He said it is an everyday thing. So take it off your bucket list and put it on your task list for today. And tomorrow. And the day after that.

What is on your “To Do/Task” List for tomorrow?

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