Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life?27 “For the Son of Man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay everyone for what has been done. 28 Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”-Matthew 16:24-28 NRSV
Take Up Your Cross
Imagine for a moment that you are living in first century Israel. The Roman empire is occupying your homeland, and to send a message to the criminals and dissenters they devised something horrific. The devised an execution method known as crucifixion in which the victim has spikes driven into their feet and hands/wrists. To breathe on has to push themselves up, often in extreme pain. Eventually the victim is so exhausted that they suffocate because they can no longer push themselves up.
With this was the backdrop of the words of Christ in today’s Gospel carries a different meaning. We have this idea of a cross being a cool piece of jewelry, but to those in the first century it was serious business. In essence Jesus draws a line in the sand with his disciples. He tells them to take up their cross. He didn’t give them a necklace as a gift. He told them that they had to die to their own wants and needs and follow where Jesus may lead.
After reading the Gospel in today’s Mass we need to ask ourselves a serious question. It is time to define the relationship. Have we taken up our cross and followed Jesus? Or have we have one foot toward him and another somewhere else. Make no mistake. There is no such thing as a part time Christian, or a half Christian. You either are or are not. Which one are you?
Are you willing to take up your cross and follow Jesus? It may not comfortable and there may be some hard decisions that have to happen. He may ask you to leave your job to serve him in the priesthood. Perhaps you will be called to serve in missions and go overseas to serve those most in need. Or maybe you will be called to the vocation of marriage when you had your heart set on being single. Any number of things can happen when you follow.
It will be the best decision you ever make. Follow Jesus.
“Hold your eyes on God and leave the doing to Him. That is all the doing you have to worry about.” St. Jane Frances de Chantal
“Our hearts were made for You, O Lord, and they are restless until they rest in You.” St. Augustine of Hippo