Thursday, March 7, 2019

“Our tendency in the midst of suffering is to turn on God. To get angry and bitter and shake our fist at the sky and say, "God, you don't know what it's like! You don't understand! You have no idea what I'm going through. You don't have a clue how much this hurts." …..The cross is God's way of taking away all of our accusations, excuses, and arguments……The cross is God taking on flesh and blood and saying, "Me too.”

“Jesus Christ lived in the midst of his enemies. At the end all his disciples deserted him. On the Cross he was utterly alone, surrounded by evildoers and mockers. For this cause he had come, to bring peace to the enemies of God. So the Christian, too, belongs not in the seclusion of a cloistered life but in the thick of foes. There is his commission, his work. 'The kingdom is to be in the midst of your enemies. And he who will not suffer this does not want to be of the Kingdom of Christ; he wants to be among friends, to sit among roses and lilies, not with the bad people but the devout people…….. If Christ had done what you are doing who would ever have been spared” ― Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Christian Community

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?"

Many Christians are willing to make sacrifices during Lent: they are willing to deny themselves chocolate, or television, or even Facebook! But Jesus says that to follow Him, we have to deny ourselves much more: each of us has to deny his very self. But what does this mean?

We can’t answer that question until we understand how we define the human self. For many of us, our self is self-defined, because we believe in what the culture around us tells us about being a “self-made man”. To experience deeper conversion in our lives, we have to allow God to define the terms of our lives.

But denying one’s very self is only the first step. The second step is for the Christian to take up his cross “daily”: not just during Lent; not just once you’ve got life figured out; but “daily”. Crosses can come into our lives from many different places: from our own foolish mistakes, from the evil choices of others, or from the loving and merciful will of a Father who knows what is best for us. There are many situations in our lives as Christians that allow us to bring about goodness into this world, if only we are willing to bear our crosses daily.

The third step of the Lord’s command is to follow Him. That is to say, we should recognize where the first two steps are leading us. If we deny our very self, and take up our cross each day, then we are headed with Jesus to Calvary. That’s where Jesus will lead us, if we follow Him. We do not need to be frightened by this, because if—like Our Blessed Mother and the Beloved Disciple—we walk with Jesus to Calvary, He has promised that we will experience the joy of His Risen Life, a life which is deeper than any suffering, and everlasting.

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