The Responsorial Psalm assures us that loyalty to God will give us joy and happiness on earth - if we
have enough trust to believe what God says: "Happy are they who hope in the Lord!" (Psalm 1).
Deuteronomy 30: 15-20 assures us that the fullness of life and joy are ours to choose. No one has to lose out on life's opportunities, because fulfillment and happiness do not depend on circumstances, or on anything others do, but on our own free choice. "Today I have set before you life and prosperity, death and doom.. Choose life, then, that you and your descendants may live, by loving the Lord your God, heeding his voice, and holding fast to him."
These are the words of almighty God. Do we believe them? God, the designer of our human nature, is telling us how to make life work for us, how to get the most out of the body, the mind, the will he designed, and the time he has given us to use them. Do we think he knows what he is talking about?
This sounds like an obvious choice, but it is just as obviously not the choice many people base their lives on. How many teenagers really believe that religion will make them happy? (We are talking about authentic religion, religion that is "spirituality," deep, personal interaction with God). How many believe they will have happier, more fulfilled lives by following the "instructions on the bottle"? How many adults do?
In Luke 9: 22-25 Jesus tells us frankly that, although the way to "the fullness of life" (on earth as well as in heaven) is very simple, it is not always easy!
It is "easy" in the sense that we cannot fail if we really want to follow the way Jesus teaches. It is easy in the sense that anyone who wants to can do it. But it will cost us. Nothing worthwhile comes cheap in this life. If we want the return, we have to invest. We can do it if we choose, but we have to choose to do it Christ's way. He tells us up front we have to "go for broke." We must give all for All; give ourselves for him; give the little we are for the everything he is; give up the little that is ours for the unlimited All he promises. "If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me."
Notice that Jesus says "daily," "each day." We don't have to become heroes over night. All he asks is that we take one step at a time, trying each day to live as he teaches, learning by trial and error, not being discouraged by our failures and sins, but "each day" getting up and getting on the road with him.
If you think Jesus' way is too hard, think of the alternative. "What profit" will we get from following the way of this world? Just look around at those who do.
Initiative: Be a disciple. Recommit during Lent to learning from Jesus.