TO TAKE UP HIS CROSS DAILY AND FOLLOW JESUS
(A biblical reflection on the 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time [Year C] – June 19, 2016)
Gospel Reading: Luke 9:18-24
First Reading: Zechariah 12:10-11;13:1; Psalms: Psalm 63:2-6,8-9; Second Reading: Gal 3:26-29
Now it happened that as He was praying alone the disciples were with Him; and He asked them, “Who do the people say that I am?” And they answered, “John the Baptist; but others say, Elijah; and others, that one of the old prophets has risen.” And He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answered, “The Christ of God.” But He charged and commanded them to tell this to no one, saying “The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raise.”
And He said to all, “If any man would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for My sake, he will save it.” (Luke 9:18-24 RSV)
Nothing can sound less appealing than the call to take up our cross and follow Jesus every day (Luke 9:23). We instinctively imagine a life of suffering and self-denial. True, death to self is part of following the Lord, but only if we look at life with Jesus from a solely human perspective will we feel frustrated by the prospect.
Each of us – whether we believe in God or not – thirsts for the Lord. How often have we felt like the psalmist – weary and needy, longing for God’s presence (Psalm 63:1)? Yet, when we seek the Lord, we encounter a conflict between our desire for Jesus and our desire to remain in sin. This very conflict, in part, illustrates the “cross” that we are called to take up. God asks us to crucify our sinful drives so that we can find our true home in Jesus.
How do we approach Jesus’ words with hope, not fear? The key is in exchanging our limited perspective, which looks only at what we lose, or the greater truth of who Jesus is and what He offers us. The more we truly lay down our lives, the more we allow Jesus to pour His life into us.
We can take up the cross by deciding to seek Jesus in prayer every day. Prayer can be like going to a friend’s wedding: If we only think of the traffic we will encounter on the way, we’ll find it hard to get into the car. But if we consider the wonderful celebration and the banquet awaiting us, we gladly fight the traffic. It will be worth it to us.
Or perhaps there is a person in our lives whom we wish we could avoid. Again, as we obey the Lord’s promptings to lay down our lives, we will be filled with divine love and receive the grace to share that love. Let us embrace the life God has called us to. It may be difficult at times, but the rewards far outweigh the costs!
Prayer: Lord Jesus, one glimpse of Your beauty makes the fight worthwhile. Help me to keep my eyes fixed fully on You as I take up my cross and follow You Amen.
Jakarta, 18 June 2016
A Christian Pilgrim