Daily reflection – 2/23/2023
He said, “The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised.” Then he said to all, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. What profit is there for one to gain the whole world yet lose or forfeit himself?” (Luke 9:22-25)
“If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.”
If you are like most people, we stumble over those words. We understand his cross of love but the idea of denying ourselves and carrying his cross is both difficult and counter cultural. It fights the image of a successful person. It fights the image of self-sufficiency. It even seems to fight the joy of life itself.
Yet, it truly is the heart of Christianity. The history of those who believed in Jesus Christ and gave their very life for Him fortifies that belief.
But what is the essence of carrying our cross on a daily belief?
It is all about humility. One word, “humility. “
We must humble ourselves to truly follow Christ. If we can’t do that then we will never know the joy that He brings us.
Humbling ourselves is not some painful act of self-debasement. Rather, it is recognizing that too much of our daily life is spent doing and saying those things that make us stand out or, at least, make us comparatively equal to those around us.
If we are so wrapped up in our ego – so wrapped up in looking “good”—so wrapped up in assuring that our public persona fits the mold of the society around us then we have no place for Jesus Christ.
This is what self-denial is. It’s understanding that we think less about ourselves so we can give more to Him.
It starts with examining every single value we have. Examining that value in terms of how it effects our thoughts and actions. If the root of the value is about ourselves then it ultimately will prevent us from knowing Him and the promise of the cross.
Here is where self-denial and the cross intertwine become one.
Let me explain that.
When we surrender our life to God through self-denial, he gives us new life and the pledge of everlasting life with God. Our path to the cross is driven by giving up our ego. By understanding that the way of the cross is really about living a life in which His will supersedes our will. The cross is assuring that, on a daily basis, we give in to His will for us, not ours. That is the meaning of carrying the cross..
Jesus is asking you and me a simple question: What will we give in exchange for eternal life with Him? 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. God gives without measure.
A true disciple gladly gives up all that he has in exchange for an unending life of joy and happiness with God. The joy He offers no sadness or loss can diminish. But it is only when we are truly prepared to stop living life for ourselves and start living it for Jesus that we truly find life.
That is at the heart of what Jesus is calling us to do. His call is to stop living life our way, and living it His way, following Jesus by imitating his life and obeying his commands.
Each of us ultimately faces a simple question. Are we ready to lose all for Jesus Christ in order to gain all with Jesus Christ?
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)
The season of Lent offers us an opportunity for us think again about what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. To think about Jesus’ radical call to discipleship. Not everyone who heard Jesus preach, chose to follow him, many turned away sad and disappointed because they weren’t prepared to deny themselves, take up their cross and follow him. The Christian life can be tough and challenging, but it is only when we live for Jesus that we discover life as it is meant to be lived, because ultimately it is only Jesus who can meet our deepest needs.