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:: Tuesday, March 04, 2003 ::

Services at St. B's tomorrow at 6:30 AM and 7:30 PM. I'll be at both.

May God be with you as we join our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in the journey of the Cross.

"And calling the crowd and his disciples to him he said to them, 'If someone (anyone) wants to follow me, do the following: deny yourself, pick up your cross, and follow me. Why? Because whoever wants to save their life will utterly destroy it; on the other hand, whoever loses his or her life because of me and the good news (the good news and I are one and the same) will save it. Let me explain it by these two rhetorical questions: What benefit is there for a person to gain the whole universe and to cause the loss of their own life? Or what about this: what can a person give in exchange for their life?" (Mark 8:34 - 37)

"Deny yourself." Hmmm... sounds like this might hurt.

"Pick up your cross." Now, that sounds like it'll really hurt.

"Follow me." Could it be that "following" might hurt, too?

Denial has been abused. It really has been. It's been used to manipulate and control people. It's put a lot of people on a guilt trip about enjoying anything. It's taken perfectly good God-given gifts and shelved them.

Yes, denial hurts. That's why I don't want to do it. I fight against it. My whole self fights against it. But that doesn't make it bad.

It's important to deny ourselves the bad things. We need to be doing that all the time. No matter what. Every day. We are trying to rid ourselves of the bad and develop the good. We should even deny ourselves too much of a good thing. We rule our appetites, not the other way around. If hunger rules us (and is not merely a tool to tell us to give ourselves sustenance) we have a problem. We are living life at the least common denominator.

But self-denial probably ought to go even further. It is, often, a discipline, not carried out indefinately, but for a set time. In this kind of self-denial, we set aside something that is rightfully ours - a gift of God, even. We are called to love God for his own sake, and not for his gifts. (See Brother Lawrence and others for that quote - I didn't come up with it on my own). We enter into this playful lover's argument with God, saying, "thanks for the gift, the gifts, but I want you and you alone. Your gifts are wonderful - they come from you. They make my love for you deeper. But it's you I want, in the end." And God often rewards such attitudes and postures with more gifts, which we have to "lovingly reject" for the love of God.

:: Matt 3/04/2003 11:54:00 PM :: permalink :: ::
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