The Conditions of Discipleship

Luke 9: 22-25
Dt 30: 15-20 / Ps 1: 1-4, 6

What profit is there for one to gain the whole world yet lose or forfeit himself?
(Luke 9: 25)

Have no fear for problems or pain,
Just hope for the blessings life will bring.
Behind the trials, there’s a gain,
God has a purpose for everything.

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?” (Luke 9:22-25)

Reflection

For those among us who are blessed with material comforts and financial stability, the language of the cross can be a stark contrast to the kind of lifestyle we have become accustomed to. You might wonder, ‘What if I have no cross to carry?’ Well, perhaps you might seriously consider helping others carry their own crosses in life?

The season of Lent is a time to reflect on our personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Where do we stand in terms of our commitment to Him? Do we still belong to the vast numbers who profess to be Christians, and yet never try to practice sacrifice (fasting), almsgiving, meditation, and submission to the Father’s will and obedience to the decrees of His Church? All of these practices are fruits of self-denial, which is the answer to the apathy and worldliness now confronting contemporary Christians.

Our Lord Jesus Christ paid the price for our redemption. To reciprocate His love, the least we can do is submit to His discipleship, take up our cross daily, and serve humbly as His servant. A brother in Christ (let’s call him Nem) related how his life was formed by his Savior. Orphaned of his mother at seven, this eldest son of a bus driver had to take care of his siblings while looking for means of livelihood, like selling root crops to augment their father’s meager income. As a working student in Manila, Nem earned his lodgings by serving as houseboy and driver to relatives, and for two years walked miles to school for lack of fare money. Rising out of poverty, he became a successful lawyer, and showed his gratitude to God by serving his community in civic and religious organizations and as a public servant. He could have built up a lucrative law practice in the big city (Manila), but he chose to serve his poor constituents in a rural province in Bukidnon. Coming from destitution, he and his teacher wife chose to serve the destitute. Bro. Nem believed that by denying himself, he chose the things of God, not the things of man.
It is a matter of choice and will that we become followers of Jesus Christ. There is no such thing as an accidental Christian, or an “inherited faith”. In today’s first reading in the book of Deuteronomy, Moses presented a choice for the Israelites to follow:

life and prosperity, or death and destruction. To love God, and keep His commands, decrees and laws, then live and increase, and be blessed in the land they are going to possess; or to turn away and be disobedient, and to bow down to other gods and worship them? If they made the wrong choice, he assured them: “You will not live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess.” (Deut. 30:15-18)

It is to live for You, my Lord, and not for myself that I accept the cross You offer me. In bearing life’s hardships I hope to be Your disciple, joyful in this privilege. Amen.

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