Thursday after Ash Wednesday

Deut 30:15-20; Luke 9:22-25

The Conditions of Discipleship


A man got lost in the desert. Walking and walking, he was so desperate to slack his thirst with a drink of water, then, he found a shack and entered to look for water. There was no water except an old, rusty water pump. He run to it and pumped it. No water came out. He staggered back, weak, discouraged. He squatted on the floor. He found a jug beside him. He took it and brushed the dust off the outside markings. “You have to pour the water from this jug to make the pump work. P.S. Be sure to refill the jug with water for the next use,” it said. Thoughts were racing: “Should I pour all the water? If so, what if the pump won’t work? Or should I just drink the water? If so, what about the next user? If I poured all the water, I could lose everything. It could yield fresh, cold water as well. If I just drink all the water, there won’t be any water to pump out water from the well.” He thought for awhile and then poured all the water. At first, no water came out. “Squeak, squeak, squeak,” sounded the pump until finally water gushed forth. He had enough water for himself and for the next user. He took the jug and added the following words: “Believe me, it really works. You have to give everything away before you can have a refill of good water.”

Jesus asserts in today’s gospel reading: “Whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake, he will save it,” (v. 24). He lived, died, and rose again for this truth. He teaches us that many times the supreme sacrifice of dying is needed to bring about new life. He says, “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone. But if it dies, it bears much fruit,” (John 20:24). Dying is manifested not only through violent death. It is also shown through a non-violent manner when we die to our selfishness day by day. (Fr. Joel Maribao, SVD Bible Diary 2002)


We all know the story about how Jesus was tempted by the devil in the desert ‘to gain the riches and the kingdoms of the world’ if he would only prostrate himself before the devil. Did Jesus give way to the temptation? Jesus rejected the temptation and said: “Away with you Satan! It is written, ‘the Lord is your God, shall you worship and Him alone shall you serve.’”

Many of us dream for more material possessions and riches in our lifetime. With all the financial and economic problems in our country and in the world, one is foolish if one doesn’t dream and work hard in order to gain more wealth to enjoy life, to build a decent house, to provide food for our family and to send our children to school.

But then, let us realize that ‘gaining the whole world’ can neither make one happy necessarily nor assure one of eternal life in the Kingdom. It is no guarantee to the Kingdom. And much worse, when one thinks that he can buy God with his material possessions and riches to open the gate of heaven. This is one mistake that Jesus wants us to learn from – not to become obsessed and greedy with the riches of the world at the expense of losing our life at the end.

This warning is brought to us in the context of ‘the call to discipleship.’ He called His disciples not only to the denial of oneself and the readiness in carrying in one’s cross but the freedom to detach oneself from gaining the riches of the world. A true disciple is one who knows, loves and follows only one master, that is, Jesus Himself.

Have we given ourselves fully and completely to Jesus? Have we occupied ourselves with material possessions while God has become a mere disturbance in our life? Today, we remember the words of Jesus in His temptation: “Lord, help me to worship you alone and to serve you alone.” (Fr. Gerry Donato, SVD Bible Diary 2006)



In today’s first reading, God offers a triple recipe for a worthwhile Lenten program: love Him, walk in His ways and keep His commandments.

In the gospel, Jesus sets before us the fabric of being a disciple. Just do the things He did. He suffered, was rejected, was put to death and was raised up. That is His program for each one of us. If we want to be His followers, we must go the same way. Jesus puts its simply and directly with a three-fold instalment: deny self, take up the cross, follow Him. There are three words which we do not usually warm up to: to deny, cross and follow. We would prefer to indulge, drop our cross and go our own way.

No matter how hard we try to avoid it, our cross will always be with us in life. We do not have to go out there searching for one. It is right here! Our cross is all the ouches, the rejections, the pains that come to us when we set out to follow Jesus. Staying faithful in a difficult marriage may be your cross or loving your adult children who stray or rarely practice their faith. A cross is forgiving a relative’s past hurts and slights or praying when we feel no one is listening. A cross is speaking well of others, raising people up instead of putting them down. A cross is when your are misunderstood by your own members in the community or when you think religious life is a bore. A cross is when you are tempted to get out of the priesthood or religious life for reasons only God knows and go home. A cross is when you think your prayer well dries up. Some of our crosses are huge, others are small. Friend, what kind of cross do you have?

Today God tells us that being a disciple is as simple as ABC: to love Him, to walk in His ways and keep His commandments. Jesus says it is as easy as 123: deny self, take up your cross and follow Him. Actually they are both one and the same. Whichever you choose, you will be choosing life. A meaningful Lent! (Fr. Gene Bacareza, SVD Bible Diary 2008)


In the Judeo-Christian tradition, every person has the freedom of choice. It is up to him/her to keep God’s commandments or not, have life or death, blessing or curse (OT). It is his/her choice to give his/her life for His sake and live, or be selfish and lose it (NT).

During this season of Lent, we are asked to pause and clarify for ourselves the motive/s why we have remained Catholics/Christians ‘til now. As someone wisely observed, an unreflected life is not worth living.

As a priest for the past forty three years, I had my share of hearing confessions. Too often I hear penitents rattle off a list of sins which they had memorized. I suspect that these persons were taught by catechists years ago. The catechists gave them a list of sins which they read at the confessional box. To this day, they simply repeat the same scene. Do you belong to this group of Catholics? How true, indeed, was the observation at the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines (PCP II) when the delegates said that most Filipino Catholics are heavily sacramentalized and not evangelized.

When we chose to remain Catholic, let this be personal choice of our response to a God who loved us first. He loved us unconditionally until death on the cross.

Yes, let us consciously choose life and blessing, not curse and death. Let us come to know better the person of Jesus Christ who was sent by the Father. His life should motivate us to live like Him. When we do so, physical pains and eventual death will not deter us from life with Him now and hereafter. (Fr. Florante Camacho, SVD Bible Diary 2009)


February 11, 2016 Thursday

On one occasion, a rather outspoken young lady blurted out that she could not be a nun because of Jesus’ mandate: “…If you will be a follower of mine, deny yourself and take up your cross and follow me.” (v. 23). She said, “I love money and material things and I want to be my own boss.”

Obviously, she believed that following Christ or discipleship is only for priests and religious and not for lay people. She missed the rst part of v.23 –“Jesus said to all people…” Of course, her blatant declaration would make a vocation promoter hesitate to” waste time” on her.

This lady is only one of the many young people today who are immersed in materialism and consumerism; whose sanctuary are the malls, the internet cafes, the disco pubs. Sad to say, in the Philippines the majority of these young people are baptized Christians. Christian means follower of Christ. Unfortunately, as PCP II reports, most Filipinos are sacramentalized but not evangelized.

In today’s “easy life” facilitated by access to technology, people are no longer attuned to pain and suffering. Sacrifice, patience, perseverance, etc., sound alien and meaningless. So when faced with hardships, quit! When conflict is not resolved, get a divorce!

Something is missing –LOVE! Love nurtures patience, delity, commitment. LOVE is of God. GOD IS LOVE. CHRIST brings God’s love to us through his sufferingdeath and rising. The question is who is Christ for me? (Sr. Angelita Roferos, SSpS | CHS, Manila Bible Diary 2016)




LOVE…….EACH DAY….EACH MOMENT: there are four gospels in the Bible. The gospel of Mark, Matthew and Luke are similar to one another. Each of them contains these words: “If you want to be my disciple, you must carry your cross.” St. Luke says it with a difference. After saying, “you must carry the cross,” he adds, “daily.” There lies the difference among the gospels of Mark, Matthew and Luke.

St. Luke says, “You must follow the Lord.” Take up your cross daily, everyday, each day.” Perhaps that is the reason why the Church chose to get the gospel of St. Luke for today. The issue of Lent is not only that we are faithful to the Lord periodically. Yesterday was Ash Wednesday and we had quite a crowd. But Ash Wednesday is not the whole Lenten season. What has happened to the crowd of Ash Wednesday? It has diminished terribly, when in fact the test of our commitment is not only on Ash Wednesday but everyday of our lives.

You know Valentine’s Day. How many roses, chocolates and gifts were bought because of lovers who wanted to mark the event? But expressions of love for our loved ones cannot be, and should not be, limited to wedding anniversaries and Valentine’s Day.

Jesus says, “”If you want to be my disciple, you must carry your cross daily.” If you want to show your love, you must show your love everyday. “Each day” is the most important phrase for today. It is very easy to love sometimes. It is very easy to love oftentimes. It is very difficult to love everyday.

The call of Lent is to love, follow the Lord and carry the cross each day. Daily! (Socrates Villegas, Jesus In My Heart, p. 100)


Reflection: For example you were present during this gospel episode. What would you do after hearing Jesus say this: “The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised.” “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.

What will register in your mind for sure is Jesus statement about His suffering and death. What will register in your mind is His statement that those who would want to follow Him must learn how to deny himself and carry his cross daily.

This is for the reason that we are normally unenthusiastic with suffering, death and sacrifice. Who would want to suffer, who would want to die at a young age and who would want sacrifice in his life? We don’t want all of these because this entails hardship and more.

But this is real life with Jesus, if we really want to feel His abiding presence in our lives. Then, we must be prepared to suffer, for what reason would we suffer for? We will suffer in our discipleship with Jesus because Jesus Himself suffered. Even if He had the power He did not exempt Himself from brutal suffering and persecution.

What would you gain after suffering for Jesus sake? You save your life for heaven and you gain eternal life in heaven with Jesus. (Marino J. Dasmarinas)


More About Judas Iscariot


Matthew : Suffered martyrdom in Ethiopia, killed by a sword wound

Mark : Died in Alexandria, Egypt, after being dragged by horses through the streets until he was dead

Luke : Was hanged in Greece as a result of his tremendous preaching to the lost

John : Faced martyrdom when he was boiled in huge basin of boiling oil during a wave of persecution in Rome.

Peter : He was crucified upside down on an x-shaped cross.

James : was thrown over a hundred feet down from the southeast pinnacle of the Temple when he refused to deny his faith in Christ.

James the Great : Son of Zebedee, was ultimately beheaded at Jerusalem

Bartholomew : flayed to death by a whip in Armenia.

Andrew : Was crucified on an x-shaped cross in Patras, Greece.

Thomas : Was stabbed with a spear in India

Jude : Was killed with arrows when he refused to deny his faith in Christ.

Matthias : replaced the traitor Judas Iscariot, was stoned and then beheaded.

Barnabas : One of the 70 disciples, was stoned to death at Salonica.

Paul : Was tortured and then beheaded by the evil Emperor Nero at Rome in A.D. 67.


Reflection: Take up his Cross

The gospel gives the immediate requirements to be a disciple of Jesus. Jesus said: “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” What are the requirements? First is to deny oneself. He does not live only for himself.  He does not keep his life and what he has only for himself. His life is for others. he lives for others. he is for Jesus. and being for Jesus, he is for others, too. To deny oneself is to obey God and not oneself; to glorify God and not to gratify oneself; to acknowledge God and to obliterate oneself.

Second is to take up the cross. To follow Jesus is to carry the cross. He must give up what he cherished most. He must surrender what is dearest to him.  He must let go of what is nearest to him. Then, he must consider the cross of Jesus as the fundamental feature of his existence. The cross of Jesus is his life. it is his hope. It is his strength. The cross is his surest way to Jesus. This to take the cross of Jesus is to be ready for a life of sacrifice and suffering.

Third is to follow him. This is to render perfect obedience to Jesus. a follower of Jesus fixes his eyes upon him, sets  his heart on him, and offers his whole life to him and for his course. In following Jesus, he traces his footsteps, speaks his words and relives his works.

These requirements to be a disciple of Jesus are made not only once in awhile. These are not on a per day basis. These are not according to our moods. Jesus unceasingly invites us. He continuously says, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny and take up his cross daily.” It is DAILY. Thus, discipleship is everyday. And it is everywhere.

Story: The inspiring life of St. Cyprian is recounted in the Acts of Martyrs. Because of his Christian faith, St. Cyprian was arrested. The magistrate interrogated him before the crowd. “are you Thascius Cyprianus?”

“I am,” was the answer.

“Our most venerable emperors have commanded you to sacrifice,” the magistrate ordered him.

“I will do it,” St. Cyprian strongly replied. “Reconsider,” the magistrate continued.

“In so just a cause there is no need for any deliberation,” Cyprian said. “It is decided that Thascius Cyprianus should die by the sword,” the magistrate sentenced him.

St. Cyprian, upon hearing the verdict and without any trace of regret, responded with firm faith, saying, “Thanks be to God.” (Msgr. Ruperto C. Santos STL, Jesus Serves and Saves us, Makati: St. Pauls – 2003:8-9)


THURSDAY AFTER ASH WEDNESDAY (YEAR B) LUKAS 9:22-25. Kinabuhi ba o kamatayon ang atong pili-on? Sa unang pagbasa, si Moises nagtudlo nga kon atong higugmaon ang Dios ug sundon ang iyang mga sugo, makabaton kitag kinabuhi ug kausawagan (Deut 30:15-20). Apan subo palandungon nga karong panahona daghang mga tawo ang mopili sa kamatayon – magpuyo nga walay Dios, makigdumot, maglinaog, manglibak, manikas, magbudhi, ug ang uban, mangaway ug mopatay. Isip mga sumusunod ni Kristo, angay kitang mokontra sa daotang espiritu sa katilingban. Dili kalaog kondili pagkalimot sa kaugalingon ang atong sundon. Dili pahayahay ug pagpakasayon kondili pagpas-an sa krus ug katungdanan ang atong puy-an. Kini ang dalan nga gilaktan ni Hesus, dalan sa gugma ug kalooy, nga maoy maghatag kanato’g kinabuhi nga malipayon. Posted by Abet Uy

(English) Luke 9: 22-25. Do we choose between life or death? In the first reading, Moses taught that if we love God and obey his commandments, we may have life and prosperity (Deut 30: 15-20). Unfortunately, many people today choose death rather than life: living without God, fighting with hatred, greed, gossip, cheating, betrayal, and the rest, quarrelling with each other and even killing in the name of religion. As followers of Christ, we should fight against the evil spirit in the society not by sword but by faith. We should follow, not greed, but self-forgetfulness. Not pleasure and vacation but we should live by carrying the cross and fulfilling our duty. This is the path that Jesus walked, it is the way of love and mercy, who gave us a happy life. Posted by Abet Uy


February 11, 2016

REFLECTION: Everybody wants to be happy, but unfortunately a lot of people do not know how they can become happy. They set about to conquer happiness itself, like an elusive butterfly who forever escapes their avid chase. But, if they listened to Jesus as he speaks in today’s gospel reading, they would learn that happiness comes to you of its own accord (the butterfly lands on your shoulder when you have given up chasing after it!), when you stop looking for it. Happiness comes when you seek the happiness of those around you, forgetting your dear little ego and its endless claims for attention. That is what Jesus means when he speaks of “denying yourself” and “losing your life.” We find happiness when we stop looking for it and become intent on making others happy. Correlatively, the most bored and miserable people are those whose whole life revolves around their navel. Here Jesus is giving us a royal road to happiness—and it passes through our neighbor’s back yard!


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See: Today’s Readings:  Year I,   Year II

Back to: Thursday After Ash Wednesday

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