Thursday After Ash Wednesday
Psalm 1:1–2, 3–4, 6;
“If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.”
This is one of the three foundational texts of Francis’s rule of life. When Bernard of Quintavalle told Francis he wanted to join his life of poverty, they spoke to the parish priest and, under his guidance, opened the Scriptures three times, a common practice in medieval times. The three passages they read that day eventually became part of Francis’s Rule:
The Rule and life of the friars is to live in obedience, in chastity and without property, following the teaching and the footsteps of our Lord Jesus Christ who says, If thou wilt be perfect, go, sell what thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me (Matthew 19:21); and, If anyone wishes to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me (Matthew 16:24). Elsewhere he says, If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, and wife and children, and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple (Luke 14:26). And everyone who has left house, or brothers, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and shall possess life everlasting (Matthew 19:29).
These passages express the need to put Christ at the center of all we think, say, and do. If our own goals, possessions, and even families and friends distract us from the Lord’s call, then we are not truly choosing life. In an ideal world, all these things should bring us closer to God—and we should bring them closer to God.
We adore you, Lord Jesus Christ,
here and in all your churches
in the whole world,
and we bless you,
because by your holy cross
you have redeemed the world.