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Di-ciadain na Luathadh

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. Matthew 4.1

Today is Ash Wednesday, when some churches burn last year's Palm crosses and apply the residue to the foreheads of faithful believers in identification with Jesus' suffering during his earthly ministry. There is no beating about the bush in the word applied by Scottish Gaelic to the season which begins today: Àm a' Chargais or simply An Carghas, meaning Time of Exigency or Want.

Why bother, when Jesus has taken care of everything, our inheritance is secure and the ultimate victory is won? Several reasons: to avoid taking God's grace for granted, to express solidarity with those who suffer, to recognise that Christ's mission to reconcile the world to God in the New Creation awaits its fulfilment in his return in glory.

While it is true that we can add nothing to what God provides through grace, the mystery of love is such that God not only makes himself vulnerable but he also invites us to exercise our will in response: we can choose to receive or reject God's overture of love to us in Jesus. Choosing to walk with Jesus - in abstinence and suffering as well as in glory - is our response to his gracious presence alongside us in our predicament.



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