Jesus “must first endure many sufferings.” —Luke 9:22

Today, on this second day of Lent, I celebrated one of the most unusual Masses of my almost thirty years of priesthood. I was in a hospital room, and the time for my colon surgery was moved up. The nurses had already put a tube down my nose, and the anesthesiologist was about to give me my first shot. I had to rush to have Mass, all the while enduring the irritation of the tube down my nose.

When I painstakingly read the Gospel, the verses meant much more to me than ever before: “The Son of Man…must first endure many sufferings” (Lk 9:22). Then “Jesus said to all: ‘Whoever wishes to be My follower must deny his very self, take up his cross each day, and follow in My steps. Whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for My sake will save it’ ” (Lk 9:23-24). Jesus suffered more terribly than anyone has ever suffered. The disciples of Jesus share in His sufferings.

As we begin Lent and walk the way of the cross in imitation of Jesus, let us pray for a great miracle of love in which we rejoice to share Christ’s sufferings (Col 1:24; 1 Pt 4:13). When we know nothing but Christ crucified (1 Cor 2:2), we know all we need to know to be ready to renew our baptismal promises and enter into the glory of Easter. “If we have died with Him we shall also live with Him” (2 Tm 2:11; see also Rm 6:8).

PRAYER: Father, send the Holy Spirit to take me more deeply into the mystery of the cross.
PROMISE: “I call heaven and earth today to witness against you: I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Choose life.” –Dt 30:19
PRAISE: Dr. Todd, a surgeon, prays with his patients before their operation.

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