To carry the cross after Jesus means that a disciple renders himself of service to others

24th Sunday of the Year - B

Isiah 50: 5-9a; Psalm 114; James 2: 14-18; Mark 8: 27-35

Read: Jesus called the people and the disciples to him and said: “If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me. For anyone who wants to save his life will lose it; but anyone who loses his life for the sake of my love and the Gospel, will save it. Because what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and then to lose his life?”

Reflect: “Let him renounce himself, take up his cross, and follow me.” These are the three orders that a Christian needs to observe if one wishes to be Jesus’ disciple. When saying “let him renounce himself” Jesus means that a disciple needs to stop to think about himself. This goes against every logic of this world. Man has at the root of his heart a tendency to think about himself, that he is central to all interests, who seeks to ensure that everything is to his advantage, ignoring all others. Whoever chooses to be Jesus’ disciple is called upon to renounce his egoism and to stop making choices that are to his advantage. The disciple who stops thinking of himself loves without expecting anything back.

When Jesus says: “take up his cross”, he is not inferring that one should bear patiently the burden and pains of life as a way of pleasing Jesus. A Christian does not seek suffering, but love. The cross is a sign of God’s love and of His own reward for us.  To carry the cross after Jesus means that a disciple renders himself of service to others, indeed even if this leads to martyrdom.

When Jesus says: “follow me”, he does not mean “to imitate him” but he implies that his disciple should be a role model of his master, to play his part in that same master’s project, and to risk his life with him for the love of his brethren.

Pray: I am encircled by death, overcome by the constraints of death; I find myself burdened by sadness and stress. But I called the Lord’s name saying: “Lord, I ask you to save me!”    

Act: Think about why you walk after Christ. Are you helped by being reminded of these reasons when you find yourself suffering and having to make sacrifices to walk behind him?

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