Lord Jesus: "Whoever wishes to come after me take up his cross and follow me"

Lord Jesus: "Whoever wishes to come after me take up his cross and follow me"

By Fr. René J. Butler/ bigccatholics.com

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. (Matthew 16: 24-25)

These words of Our Lord come very close to those of the prophet Ezekiel: “You say, ‘The Lord’s way is inscrutable, mysterious, and above all, not fair!’”

This week we are confronted once again with the question of God’s fairness. It is a matter of expectations.

Jesus had only one expectation for his life: to accomplish his Father’s will. Even when, in the Garden of Gethsemane, he asked to be spared the suffering that lay ahead, there was no hint of blame. He was, as St. Paul writes, obedient to the point of death.

Like the parable in today’s Gospel, the message of Christ presents opposing scenarios—refusal to submit to God’s will, on the one hand, and conversion on the other—only one of which is acceptable.

Suffering is a great mystery, and Jesus expects his disciples to carry their cross. The Christian response to suffering can be one of questioning why, or asking to be spared—or conversion. The parable recognizes that people can change.

Conversion, turning to the Lord, doesn’t necessarily ease suffering, or provide the answer to the problem of pain. What is does is simply to let God in.

Through prayer, worship, reverence, we can open the door and invite the Lord into our lives, painful or peaceful as they may be.

We will find that the Lord has been there all the time, just waiting for us acknowledge his presence.

Ezekiel says that whoever turns away from sin will “surely” live. The Hebrew here uses two forms of the verb “to live,” which could be translated literally as “living he will live,” or “he will live to live.” It suggests more than just being alive, a new intensity of life.

“Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it,” Jesus assures us. If we return to the Lord with all our heart, even if our lives are far from easy, we will know his blessing.

That is our Christian expectation. It’s called hope.

Fri, 09/29/2017 - 10:58
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