“It is to the Cross that the Christian is challenged to follow his Master: no path of redemption can make a detour around it.” ― Hans Urs von Balthasar: (1905 –was a Swiss theologian and Catholic priest who was to be created a cardinal of the Catholic Church but died before the ceremony)
Gospel Text: (LK 9:22-25)
Jesus said to his disciples:
"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?"
If Christ himself were to ask you to "deny yourself and take up your cross each day and follow me," how would you respond? As Christians we desire to follow the teachings of Christ; we wish to follow his example. However, this desire to follow him may be limited by our mundane preferences and aspirations. It is very difficult to go against currently prevailing values and culture and to go out of our comfort zone and give up what is agreeable and satisfying for us.
However, if we truly wish to follow Christ, his instructions are very clear: "Deny yourself and take up your cross each day and follow me." Hopefully our love for Christ would prevail and motivate us to follow him as he is.
We cannot serve two masters. We cannot be like Christ if we are materialistic and worldly. To imitate him means to love as he did in his service of others, thinking more of others than ourselves.
They say that at their studies at the University of Paris, St. Ignatius of Loyola transformed the brilliant Francis Xavier with the repeated question and warning given in today's Gospel reading, "What does it profit you to gain the whole world while you destroy or damage yourself?" Following Christ and St. Ignatius, Francis gave up a promising university career and emptied himself to bring Christ to Asia.
In losing his life, Francis Xavier saved it and saved many others.