A reading from the holy Gospel according to Matthew 16:24-27
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 one according to his conduct."
‘If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me.'
In this one sentence from the Holy Gospel, I am invited to self-reflect and address:
1. My desire - what do I want in life? What am I hoping for? Am I cultivating a desire for Christ?
2. Renunciation of myself - what does this mean? What am I hoping to renounce or detach in my life?
Renunciation of self presupposes knowledge of self. Do I really know myself and my motivation and all motives for decisions and actions?
Much of life is figuring out this conflict with ourselves and our relationships with others.
One of the best advice I have ever received is to understand that when I am angry or annoyed with a brother, it is because interiorly, there is something in me that has not been properly addressed.
This has taught me a lot about myself. I invite you to do the same when examining a difficult relationship in your life.
3. The cross - how we respond to suffering when - not if - it comes, corresponds to how much we have allowed the Redeeming Cross of Christ to change us. Suffering is a universal part of this life. It only makes sense when our vision is redeeming love. There is no Heaven for us without the Cross.
4. Follow me - says Our Lord. To where? The suffering of the cross. Our faith is not sadistic. It is the door to a capacity to love beyond our imagination and what we thought is possible through the help of God.
Padre Pio, pray for us.
Happy Feast Day!