Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? Or what can one give in exchange for his life? For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father’s glory, and then he will repay everyone according to his conduct. Amen, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his Kingdom.”(Matthew 16:24-28)
Over the last two millennia, much has been written about the meaning of taking up our crosses and following Jesus Christ. For me, the second sentence truly completes the message that we are receiving.
Let’s begin with taking up our cross. Our very lives give us a variety of crosses. Some of them are more difficult than others. It is never easy to accept a cross, be that illness, financial worries, family difficulties, depression, joblessness, etc. However, what may be helpful or detrimental to us is how we view our cross. Do we view it as a punishment from God? Or do we believe that crosses simply are part of our lives, just as joy and love are part of our human condition?
The reality of being human means that we will suffer, just as we will experience joy, love, peace and comfort. The gift is: when we are carrying a cross, Jesus is with us and he will help us to carry our cross. Jesus also will grace us with comfort, peace and strength as we deal with our cross.
For that to happen, we must understand that it is Jesus’ will for us to die to our sins, our world and our very own self. To follow Him, He wants us to live His life of compassion, love, mercy and humility. To follow Him is follow His nothingness, His powerlessness and be closest to the ground, the least and the last of all. When we deny our old drives, aspirations, dreams, inclinations and plans and decide to choose God’s will for us, we are actually picking up our cross and carrying it.
By choosing to do God’s will no matter how difficult it could be, we actually lose our old self and we are transformed to the new creation that God has wanted us to be. By giving up our old life, we find our new life in Jesus, our Lord and Savior.Not a lot of us will be asked to die for God’s cause. But what our Lord wants is for us to be able to die to ourselves, again and again, as we do His work and relate with one another. He wants us to yield to His control without any reservation and conditions so that we do not claim any rights whatsoever.
Today, God is calling all of us to give up self and allow Jesus to prevail in every aspect of our lives. He wants us to be firmly founded on Jesus, live His life and allow ourselves to be subsumed by His will, so that we can truly say that we are one with Him and in Him we live and move and have our being!
Prayer of The Day
“Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and all my will, all that I have and possess. You have given them to me; to you, O Lord, I restore them; all things are yours, dispose of them according to your will. Give me your love and your grace, for this is enough for me.” (Prayer of Ignatius of Loyola, 1491-1556)
Everything we have is an out-right gift from God. We owe him everything, including our very lives. It’s possible to give God our money, but not ourselves, or to give him lip-service, but not our hearts. A true disciple gladly gives up all that he has in exchange for an unending life of joy and happiness with God. God gives without measure. The joy he offers no sadness or loss can diminish. The cross of Christ leads to victory and freedom from sin and death. What is the cross which Jesus Christ commands me to take up each day? When my will crosses with his will, then his will must be done. Are you ready to lose all for Jesus Christ in order to gain all with Jesus Christ?