Day 2: Thursday after Ash Wednesday

GOD’S CALL TO LIFE

 

  1. Document: Holy Scripture Readings

1.1.  First Reading: Book of Deuteronomy 30:15-20

1.2.  Gospel Reading: The Gospel of Luke 9:22-25

1.3.  Simple Comment: Moses gathers the people he had led through the desert for the past forty years. They are now at the threshold of the Promised Land. He knows he will not have the joy of entering this Land and so he bids them farewell. He reminds them of the covenant Yahweh forged with them. He asks them to choose life by following God’s commands. Jesus in Luke’s Gospel tells his disciples, that for Him, to choose life means to lose it – offering his life for the ransom of the many. However, losing it as His Father wills it means following His Father’s command. Indeed, losing his life for the sake of the Gospel means eventually saving it, as confirmed by his resurrection.

 

  1. Monument: The Temple in Jerusalem

2.1.  The Temple in Jerusalem was built by King David’s son, Solomon. It took nearly 40 years to complete it in 922 B.C. It lasted for some 374 years until the Babylonians destroyed it in 587 B.C. Thanks to King Cyrus, the Jews were allowed to rebuild it after 70 years of non-existence. It was this so-called Second Temple that Jesus saw in his time. It was embellished and enlarged by Herod the Great. It took him 46 years to do it.

2.2.  This Second Temple was completely destroyed by the Romans in the year 70 A.D. To this day, after 2000 years have passed, there is no existing Temple in Jerusalem. Instead on its esplanade stands the Dome of the Rock, the third holiest mosque of Islam; only the western wall keeping the Temple mount remains of the old Herodian construction. Today the Jews pray before this wall, awaiting the coming of the Messiah who they believe will rebuild the Third Temple. They call this the Wailing Wall.

2.3.  In this Temple began the whole story of human salvation. Inside the Holy of Holies an angel appeared to the priest Zechariah, announcing the birth of his son John. In this annunciation the mystery of God’s incarnation commenced, because John was to precede the coming of the Messiah, Jesus who is God-amongst-us.

 

  1. Lenten Reflection

3.1.  Zechariah and Elizabeth did not have a child for a long time; they were barren. To have John as their son goes to prove that life is a completely gratuitous gift from God. For them, and above all for John, God in his magnanimity chose to give life.

3.2.  This basic gift of life finds its ultimate expression in the person of Jesus whom the Father sent so that we may not just have life but “have it in its fullness.”  Without Jesus, our life may have its pleasures and enjoyments but, ultimately, our insatiable desire to live for-ever will be frustrated. We would have life but without fulfillment! In Jesus God shows that He chooses not only to give us life but to share His everlasting joyful life.

3.3.  Yet we can jeopardize this gift of life and of eternity. In fact, we do jeopardize it with sin – selfishly living our lives without reference to the God’s commandments. Running only after what is pleasurable without responsibility, amassing wealth without honest gain, and seeking fame and glory without respect for justice and others’ dignity – this worldly way of living makes us lose everything we are trying to save for ourselves. Thus, both Moses and Jesus tell us: choose life – choose God’s way of life!

 

  1. Contemporary Filipino Question: (Blessed) Mother Teresa once remarked: “I cannot imagine that the Philippines is really a Christian nation when it allows its children to eat from the garbage!” With over 100,000 street children in our cities, with 70 percent of our population below poverty, with the way our political strifes continue to scourge the helpless and the hapless, do we, Filipino Christians, really choose life? The truth may hurt but Lent asks us to face it, and hopefully resolve the incongruence.