The Cross of Discipleship

Luke 9: 22-25

Dt 30: 15-20/ Ps 1: 1-2. 3. 4 and 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 told 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. 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?” (Lk.9:23-25)

Reflection

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 crosses daily, and serve humbly as His servants. For those among us who are blessed with material comforts and financial stability, the language of the cross might seem “counter-cultural”, and incongruous to the kind of lifestyle we have become accustomed to. You might even wonder, ‘What if I have no cross to carry?’ Then perhaps you might seriously consider helping others carry their own crosses in life. Jesus made it clear that self-denial is the determining factor of a true Christian faith. Unless we are willing to take up our cross to follow Jesus, we can never hope to claim membership in His Mystical Body, nor an inheritance in His heavenly kingdom.

This 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 and abstaining from our favorite delicacies or pastimes), 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.

Following our Lord Jesus Christ was never meant to be a “walk in the park.” Grace from God may be free, but it never comes cheap. The German Theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer called “cheap grace” as “forgiveness without requiring repentance, Communion without confession, grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ.” We all have to work to make grace effective in our life. And by self-denial we choose the things of God, and not the things of this world.

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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