Wednesday, 2nd Week of Lent         

            “Can you drink the chalice that I am going to drink?”

            The question Jesus poses to his disciples (and to us) in today’s gospel is really a question of fidelity to him in the face of opposition. What are we willing to give up and sacrifice for Christ?

            A friend of mine was telling me that in his younger years, he dreamed of being a martyr for Christ. But as he grew older, that dream diminished. However, he realized (I hope we realize too) that there are many meaningful ways of willingly sacrificing for Christ. Coming to the celebration of the Mass on a raining Sunday or listening to a homily that is longer than ten minutes or giving a full, conscious, and active participation in the Eucharist is a heroic sacrifice that can help us to be faithful Catholics.

            How far are we willing to go for what we believe? What are we willing to let go for Christ?  Would we give up friendships, career opportunities, or financial gains for the sake of not placing our fidelity to Christ in jeopardy? Would we sacrifice time for internet and social media for the sake of showing our faithfulness to Christ in prayer? Would we abandon idle talk and malicious gossip for the sake of giving more room for the Gospel? Would we renounce worldly entertainment and instant gratification for the sake of sharing in Christ’s passion and death?

            Just because these sacrifices are small, it does not mean they are insignificant. It is not only the manner of physical death shown by the early martyrs that defines heroism. Drinking of the chalice for Christ can manifest itself financially, socially, politically, as well as physically.

            Joseph Krempa has this commentary and reflection on today’s gospel passage: “All of us have selected a Lenten penance for this year.” “Does our chosen penance go to the heart of what may be diluting our loyalty to Christ?” “Are we really attacking the nerve center of what distances and distracts us from Christ?” “Is our penance just symbolic or truly medicinal?”

            We will know if our Lenten penance is directed to manifesting our fidelity to Christ and to experiencing some measure of the chalice of suffering of Jesus when we have become more regular in our prayer life, more active in participating in the life and mission of the Church, more other-oriented, more understanding, patient, and forgiving to others. That will be our path to Easter Sunday. That will be our path to Christ’s glory.

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