A reading of the holy Gospel according to Matthew 16:24-28

Jesus said to his disciples, “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 will find it. What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? Or what can one give in exchange for his life? For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father’s glory, and then he will repay each according to his conduct. Amen, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his Kingdom.”

REFLECTION: "Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me."

At its face value, it is not a very inviting thought to deny yourself and take up your cross. But imagine, God who suffered to prevent us from suffering in eternity, will give us suffering now to avoid the slightest pain in eternity. What a wonderful God.

Ever since we were born, we have gotten all that we want. We go through the stages of "it is mine" and not wanting to share, to working hard for the materal things we have been promised we can possess if we have the right degrees, dress a certain way, join a certain club, drive a fancy car or go on idyllic vacations. So when we hear, "Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me." .....I stop and wonder.

What we do in life is based on love--mostly love of ourselves and our family being an extension of ourselves. It is hard to break that last tie to the world and give all our love to God. In submitting our will to God and carrying the cross God has allowed in our live, we draw closer in union with Him.

However, I may not desire wealth but I don't want to suffer hardship; I don't want fame but I don't want people to look down on me, I don't like pain, etc....

In wishing nothing except what He wishes, we surrender unconditionally, setting aside our hopes and fears. The more we love God the more He will meet our wishes and needs. So for those of us who want to follow Jesus, and carry our crosses, pray without ceasing that we obtain the virtue of the cross God has given us. After all, crosses from God are not meant for mere suffering, but to obtain the virtue and the penance that we need on our way to heaven.

God Bless You

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