24th Sunday of Ordinary Time (B):
WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO BE A CHRISTIAN?
“Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me (Mk 8:34).”
In today’s Sunday liturgy, the 1st reading and the Gospel evoke the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Whereas in the 2nd reading, St. James reminds us what it takes to have an authentic faith.
- Isaiah describes the total self-surrender and trust of the Servant of Yahweh, submitting himself to the humiliations without any complaint:
“The Lord God opens my ear that I may hear; and I have not rebelled, have not turned back. I gave my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who plucked my beard; my face I did not shield from buffets and spitting. The Lord God is my help, therefore I am not disgraced; … the Lord God is my help; who will prove me wrong? (Is 50:5–9a)”
- In the Gospel (Mk 8:27-35), Our Lord Jesus Christ asked the apostles about the people’s idea of who He is and their own idea of who He is, to which Peter excellently replied and professed his faith in the Divinity of Jesus: “You are the Christ.” Then, Our Lord foretold His Passion, Death and Resurrection to his apostles, to which Peter, out of his zeal and love for Our Lord, “took him aside and rebuked him”. Our Lord reprimanded Peter with strong words saying: “Get behind me, Satan. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do”, in order to insist on the primacy of the fulfillment of God’s plan of Redemption.
- In the 2nd reading (Jas 2:14–18), St. James reminds us that “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? …faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”
All these ideas having said, we can ask ourselves: WHAT KIND OF FAITH AND WORKS DOES GOD EXPECT FROM US, CHRISTIANS? WHAT IS OUR IDENTITY AND STYLE OF LIFE? Jesus himself gives us the answer from today’s Gospel:
“Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it (Mk 8:34-35).”
WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO BE A FOLLOWER OF CHRIST?
A CHRISTIAN, BY VIRTUE OF BAPTISM, IS A DISCIPLE −FOLLOWER− OF CHRIST. But there are many ways of following someone: one can follow somebody from a distance, without wanting to get involved, or perhaps, observing someone with sincere admiration…
However, CHRIST DOES NOT WANT MERE ADMIRERS. CHRIST WANTS FAITHFUL, COMMITTED AND GENEROUS FOLLOWERS WILLING TO SACRIFICE THEMSELVES FOR LOVE.
REQUISITES TO FOLLOW CHRIST
If we are follow Christ faithfully and till the end, we must then be prepared to (1) SAY NO TO OURSELVES; (2) CARRY OUR DAILY CROSS.
(1) SAY “NO” TO OURSELVES
- There is no other way if we are to live Christ’s life. Nevertheless, we shouldn’t think that Christ’s way is a sad, killjoy, miserable path! No! CHRIST’S WAY IS A WAY OF LOVE. And love knows how to renounce and sacrifice oneself to make the beloved happy. LOVE AND SACRIFICE ARE INSEPARABLE for love entails self-giving for the good of the beloved, although it may demand sacrifice. A person who is not willing to sacrifice himself for the beloved is a person not capable of loving for he loves himself more than the other.
- We need to say “NO” many times to our disordered inclinations –pride, envy, sensuality, greed, anger, vanity, gluttony− out of love for God (always!). This requires a daily interior struggle, again out of love for God and humbly beginning again, standing up each time we make a fall.
(2) EMBRACE OUR DAILY CROSS: What does this “daily Cross” comprise of?
- It comprises bearing cheerfully and out of love for God the “LITTLE CROSSES” OF EACH DAY , for example, struggling against our laziness and other , a small headache, an unexpected change of plans, bearing cheerfully the tiredness after a hard day’s work, fulfilling a daily schedule of piety, patience in family life, or a traffic jam, heat, cold…;
- or the “HUGE AND HEAVY CROSS” of illness, death, family problems, calumny, persecution, unemployment, natural calamities, injustices….
Dear friends, let us live our life as Christians by being faithful, committed followers of Our Lord Jesus Christ, always disposed to renounce ourselves out of love for God and others, and freely embracing the Cross −big and small, and again for love’s sake− which our Lord sends us in the ordinary vicissitudes of our daily life. Through his Passion and Death, our Lord has showed us a clear path: if we want to share in his life, if we are to identify ourselves with him, then we have to pass by the way of the Cross for the way to holiness, the way to perfection, the way of our Lord Jesus Christ is a way of the Cross. There is no holiness without renunciation (CCC 2015). There is no sanctity without self-denial and mortification. There is no love without sacrifice. This is the operative faith of a true disciple of Christ, this is our identity, this is the Christian way of life.
-Fr. Rolly Arjonillo, priest of Opus Dei. CATHOLICS STRIVING FOR HOLINESS. We are also in Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/CatholicsstrivingforHoliness Hope you like our page and invite your friends as well to do so in order to help more people.
If you have friends who do not have a Facebook account but you think would benefit from our posts, they can receive our posts by email once they follow us and subscribe in www.catholicsstrivingforholiness.com
PHOTO SOURCE: Juan de Mesa, “Cristo de la Buena Muerte” Capilla Universitaria, Sevilla 1620 in http://api.ning.com/files/APCQytg3PXNPoj2JjNe64lvZnC-oerVXjqziSLe4uXMVihb9*qg3c2i*WWGj8dcIzf0CNwy1P4aDvun7cIUIape74HDw4um5/1066f73a_135792.jpg