the joy of self-denial
"Jesus said to all: 'Whoever wishes to be My follower must deny his very self.' " —Luke 9:23
To follow Jesus, we must deny our very selves. I had always thought of this as a rather unappealing task until I heard a homily that said denying ourselves was one thing that makes human beings different from animals. Animals have no power to deny themselves. They just go by their instinctual desires as programmed by their genetic makeup. Animals are not and cannot be free; they are only programmed or trained to varying degrees.
However, human beings can say "No" to their desires and instincts. We are not just genetically programmed. We are free! To deny ourselves is to declare our independence. "Doing our own thing" is not doing our own thing but deceiving ourselves and abdicating our freedom. To do only what we feel like is to denigrate oneself to a sub-human condition. To deny ourselves is to be fully human, to be free, to be empowered by God's supernatural power.
As we begin to fast in some way for each of the forty days of Lent, let's consider it a privilege to deny ourselves. By God's grace, we can deny ourselves, take up Jesus' cross each day, follow Him, lose our lives, and save our lives (Lk 9:23-24). By God's grace, we can be human, free, and supernatural. Happy Lent!
Prayer: Father, may I rejoice in self-denial.
Promise: "I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Choose life, then, that you and your descendants may live, by loving the Lord, your God, heeding His voice, and holding fast to Him." —Dt 30:19-20
Praise: Marcia found a new freedom when giving up TV for Lent.
Reference: (For a related teaching, order our tape on Developing a Deep Personal Relationship with Jesus on audio AV 52-1 or video V-52.)
Rescript: †Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, July27, 2010
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