Fr Paul reads from the Gospel of Luke (9: 22-25) in which Jesus says, ‘If anyone wants to be a follower of mine let them renounce themselves and take up their cross every day and follow me’.
Fr Paul says these days we are celebrating now, the days between Ash Wednesday and the First Sunday in Lent, set the tone for our Lenten Journey. We’ve started the 40 days of Lent. Biblically, 40 is a period of preparation. Israel spent 40 years in the Desert of Sinai. Elijah spent 40 days in the desert. The disciples, themselves, spent 40 days preparing to undertake their first mission. What is vital for Lent, which is expressed in today’s Gospel, is the prophecy of how the Son of Man is to suffer, be rejected, die, and rise on the 3rd day. We know the disciples have been dramatically slow to learn who Jesus really is because Jesus will be a suffering Messiah. He is not going to be an all-conquering warrior, which is what the people were expecting. In all the Gospels, when he is recognised as the Messiah, Jesus immediately talks of the prophecy that we’ve heard in today’s Gospel… about suffering, about rejection, about being put to death, about rising again. Fr Paul says the message for us, as it was for the disciples, is that if we are preparing ourselves in this season of Lent to share with Christ at Easter, to share in his Resurrection, then we must understand that we must also share in his suffering during this Lenten period. That’s what the Gospel today highlights. It’s why we have the Lenten practices we have. We need to walk the journey with Christ… a journey of suffering, of rejection and death… only then can we enjoy and celebrate the Resurrection.