Fr Paul Gooley reads today’s Gospel from Luke (9: 22-25) in which Jesus says to his disciples, ‘What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose their very self?’ Fr Paul says these first four days of Lent, before the First Sunday of Lent, set the tone in different ways. There should be forty days of Lent to correspond to the forty days of Jesus’ time of preparation in the desert for his mission. In the Bible ‘forty’ is often a time of preparation: the forty years of Israel in the desert of Sinai, preparing for entry into the Promised Land; the forty days of Elijah in the desert before his vision of God; and the forty days of preparation for the disciples between the Resurrection and the Ascension, preparing them for their mission. The element vital to Lent which the Church sets before us today is the first prophecy of the Passion. The disciples have been drastically slow to learn who Jesus is, and at last Peter pipes up ‘You are the Christ (the Anointed One, the expected Messiah)’. But even so, he has not appreciated what this means, for Jesus is not the expected warrior-king who will sweep the Romans into the sea. His way of fulfilling the prophecies is as a suffering Messiah. So, in all the Gospels, he immediately follows his recognition as Messiah by the first prophecy of the Passion. Each of the three great prophecies of the Passion is misunderstood by the disciples, who – like ourselves – shy away from the message that the disciple of Christ must share in his suffering. If we are to prepare to share with Christ at Easter in the Resurrection, we must do this by sharing in his suffering. This is what today’s Gospel stresses. Fr Paul notes today’s Gospel Lesson – We have 40 days to prepare for Easter.