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Michael J. O’LoughlinFebruary 09, 2024
Photo from Unsplash.

A Reflection for Thursday after Ash Wednesday

Find today’s readings here.

“Choose life, then…”

The day after Ash Wednesday is when it begins to hit. The festivities of Christmas and New Year’s are long in the rearview mirror, Mardi Gras has wrapped up and even the novelty of yesterday’s service, like the ashes themselves, has faded. We are now undoubtedly in Lent, the time of year when the mood of the church calendar aligns perfectly with the climate outside. (Or at least it does for our readers who, like me, are in the Northeast!) We’ve had enough with the cold and the gray and the wet and we long for brighter, warmer days. We know they are ahead, but getting there isn’t always easy.

That’s why the phrase from today’s first reading stuck out to me.

Moses is speaking, offering the people a choice. They can choose to follow God, and be blessed, or turn from God, and perish.

“Choose life, then,” Moses says.

Choosing life means not giving in to despair, believing that even though challenges abound and the outlook appears bleak, there are better days ahead. Choosing life means embracing the unknown, taking risks and enjoying what God has given us. Sometimes you meet people who seem to be imbued with an infectious vitality. Their joyfulness is contagious. They are choosing life.

The day after Ash Wednesday might not immediately feel like an ideal time to consider how we can more fully choose life. After all, the coming weeks are devoted to contemplating how we have chosen not life, but something else, and to make amends for those decisions while trying to do better. But we also know that Easter is on the horizon, reminding us that life conquers all. Or, as Jesus put it in a verse from John’s Gospel, “I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly” (Jn 10:10).

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