Tuesday of the Eighth Week in Ordinary Time
(Sirach 35:1-12; Mark 10:28-31)
What Americans call “Mardi Gras” is known as “Carnival” in other countries. The words refer to an extended period of reverie just prior to the beginning of Lent. People consume quantities of alcohol, pastries, and meats (from which “Carnival” is derived)—foods from which many will soon abstain. They often wear masks to promote a sense of solidarity by hiding individual identities. Although it is sometimes celebrated to excess, Mardi Gras does underscore the seriousness of what is to follow. Likewise, today’s gospel also anticipates Lenten commitment.
Peter tells Jesus that he and the other disciples have left everything for Jesus. Only Jesus is worth such a sacrifice. He brings peace to the world by providing not just a rule of life but the spiritual energy to carry it out. As he implies at the end of the passage, following him means giving up all pretensions of personal importance. At the same time it delivers all that is of eternal importance.
By now we should have a firm resolve to take advantage of the forty days of repentance and sacrifice beginning tomorrow. In accord with the tradition we might have in mind a favorite food from which we will abstain. We also might have promised to seek the Lord in a project among the poor or disabled.