The prophet Joel gives us our mission for the next 40 days: Even now, says the Lord, return to me with your whole heart, with fasting, and weeping, and mourning; Rend your hearts, not your garments, and return to the Lord, your God.  (Joel 2:12-18)

We are called to firmly fix our eyes on Jesus.  As we do so, His light will reveal the darkness of our sins.  His mercy and compassion will give us confidence and courage to make a complete accounting of our life in the sacrament of Reconciliation. 

Today, Jesus speaks to us from Luke’s Gospel: If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.  For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.  (Luke 9:22-25)

The truth of this teaching can be observed in the crucifix.  On the cross, Jesus denied Himself.  In His death, He won our salvation, and gained for us the transforming gift of redemption.  On the cross and through His death, Jesus reveals the presence of God in the human drama of death, and in His resurrection reveals that our God is a God of life that is greater than death itself.

Jesus comes to teach us how to make a gift of our life.  Jesus comes to teach us how to find our life in Him.  Jesus comes to teach us how to find our ultimate meaning and purpose in Him.  We have nothing to fear in self-sacrifice, and everything to gain.  We have nothing to fear in death.  It is merely a portal to eternal life in the presence of God.

So this Lent, we make our return to the Lord.  We fix our eyes on Christ, and our gaze on heaven, where Christ has prepared a place for us, where Christ is seated at God’s right hand.