The Meaning of the Cross

Mark 8: 34 – 9:1
Jas 2: 14-24. 26 / Ps 112: 1-6

Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.
(Mark 8:34-35)

The values on which we now depend
Will determine our final goal. . .
What profit is there to gain, my friend,
If in the end we lose our soul?

Jesus called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man, to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? What could one give in exchange for his life? Whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this faithless and sinful generation, the Son of man will be ashamed of when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.” He also said to them, “Amen, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see that the kingdom of God has come with power.”

Reflection

“Bearing one’s cross” can have a wrong connotation for most of us. What usually comes to mind are trials and sufferings that we are compelled to endure, like a debilitating illness such as diabetes or emphysema, a son who is addicted to drugs, a business on the verge of bankruptcy, or even a failed or unhappy marriage. But these are not the kind of cross that Jesus meant for us to take up in order to follow Him. It is in denying our dreams and desires for the pleasures, power, and privileges of this world for the sake of the Gospel, and for the sake of His kingdom. Our trials and sufferings can also be crosses in life, but they only gain significance if we lift them up to God in full trust and confidence in His plans for our life.

Jesus showed us that ultimately, the essence of the cross is love. In defining the meaning of love to a group of out-of-school youths in one BIL seminar, some of the words that came to mind were: respect, self-denial, giving, and sacrifice. “Suppose you had some money which you had intended for a pair of new shoes, and a brother in Christ came up to you to borrow money for his sick mother’s medical needs, would you part with it to help?” The grim faces told me that love was not going to be an easy subject to define. “Jesus said, ‘What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?’” In defining life, the words were: spiritual, intellectual, physical, social and financial. “Why is spiritual the top priority in our life, while financial is at the bottom of the list?” A youngster answered (in Visayan), “Because the spiritual is eternal, while all the rest are temporal.” Brilliant! But he did not answer the second half of the question. Which is actually similar to the answer of the first half: “My soul is me; my mind is me; my body is me; and my relationships (social) have made me what I am. But my money is not me. It is only mine. That is why money should be the least of our concerns in life. There are things more important than money or material needs. Is that pair of new shoes more important than the life of your friend’s mother?” The youthful faces now glowed with understanding. They had understood why respecting life, denying one’s self, being generous and sacrificing a desire are a light cross to bear for love.

Father God, we sometimes forget that everything comes from you, and we are merely Your stewards in this life we live. Forgive us whenever we fail to share our resources with those who are in need; show us how to be generous and loving as Your Beloved Son Jesus did for our salvation. Increase our faith and dependence on Your Divine Providence, so that our dependence on our possessions may diminish, and we may grow in Your love. Amen.

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