Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Choose Love, Choose Life, Choose the Cross

By Beth DeCristofaro

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. (Deuteronomy 30:19-20) 

Then (Jesus) 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. (Luke 9:23-24)

For you created me and shaped me,
Gave me life within my mother's womb.
For the wonder of who I am I praise you:
Safe in your hands, all creation is made new.
 (from God You Search Me, Bernadette Farrell, based on Psalm 139)

As ashes were inscribed on my forehead during Ash Wednesday Mass yesterday, tears came to my eyes.  The ancient words, “Remember thou are dust and unto dust you will return” convey a deep truth and mystery.  They become poignant with the passing of the years.  Another Lenten journey to draw closer and closer to God through the desert of our lives.  Another reminder of the passing of mortal time as we look at the ripening lives of our children and growing frailty of our parents.  We are aware in new ways of the incompleteness of our own hopes and dreams. The words deliver at the same time the truth that life in Christ is richer, deeper, more timeless than anything we can imagine for ourselves.  He chose and gave us that life.

But I also heard in these words, “dust to dust” the awe inspiring and tear inducing truth that my dust – your dust too – is precious.  This “mortal coil” was shaped and quickened in the image of the Creator because God wanted me and you to live, to love, to praise, and to share the journey to God with the rest of God’s creation.  My “dust” is precious.  Your “dust” is precious.  May we every day live purposefully, learning to love as God loves.

Jesus accepted and became dust just like me.  He loved extravagantly to the cross and beyond.  Our tears of mortality and eternity are gifts from our Redeemer.  During Lent, what cross might I accept with just a bit more love, a bit more life than I have been willing to do before?

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