Friday, August 11, 2017

“The great symbol of Christianity means sacrifice and no one calls himself a Christian can evade this stark fact.”

There is no evil to be faced that Christ does not face with us. There is no enemy that Christ has not already conquered. There is no cross to bear that Christ has not already borne for us, and does not now bear with us. And on the far side of every cross we find the newness of life in the Holy Spirit, that new life which will reach its fulfillment in the resurrection. This is our faith. This is our witness before the world. – Pope Saint John Paul II: (1920 –  2005: was Pope from 1978 to 2005. He is called by some Catholics Saint John Paul the Great.

Gospel Text: (MT 16:24-28)
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 each 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."

What does Jesus mean when he says to his disciples – including us – “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me”?

Does it mean that we are to accept with patience our trials, aches and pains that are part of life, to “offer it up to God,” as the good Sisters taught us to say?  Yes.  But it means so much more than dealing with life’s choppy waters.

It means that Christ demands, not suggests, a commitment of faith that is ready to embrace God’s will, wherever it may lead, even unto death. Such a commitment of faith means that we are ready to affirm life despite what life brings, and even in the face of doubts and fears.

Christ’s demand is unequivocal.  If we wish to follow him, we must take up our cross – with the kind of faith in which Jesus can say to us: “Your faith has made you whole.”

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