Twelfth Sunday of the year
TAKE UP YOUR CROSS AND FOLLOW ME
In our Gospel Reading for this Sunday we hear the immortal words of Jesus when he asks the disciples WHO DO YOU SAY I AM? That is a very good question to ask ourselves during the year of faith who do we say that Christ is. Peter put it very well when he said: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Mt. 16:16) This profession of faith belongs to the heritage of the Church: Peter said it once and for all of us and as a result of his words from that time, and for all time entered into the history of the Church, the mystical Body of Christ! Like a living body, a body which is always growing, whose members live forever in God even when they have ceased to live on earth? We also see that Jesus tells us that we must take up our cross every day and follow Jesus. During Sunday Masses, we may be tempted to “turn off” when we hear the Gospel especially when the message that Jesus tell us says, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me.” Many people do not want to deny themselves in our world where so few have so much and so many have little or nothing at all Yet, Jesus insists on this qualification for being His follower. As experience of living teaches us over and over, “biting the bullet” and facing the hard things that come our way has rich rewards from the point of view of faith. Enduring pain from illness, accident, or loss can transform us to a richer level of living. How can we possibly measure up to this kind of living? We know the answer very well. It’s our decision (inspired by prayer and God’s grace) to love God more and more.
All of us want to be followers of Jesus, but many refuse to pay the price of discipleship we cannot forget Good Friday and the Cross the greatest example of love and discipleship that Jesus gave us. We won’t go through the Calvary that Jesus went through and there is no consolation at all in being a half-hearted disciple. There is no freedom in that. Even though we all want to live a pain- and trouble-free existence and I don’t think anyone anywhere really gets to live in a a pain- and trouble-free existence. Religion is a two-sided coin. On the one hand, it comforts us with the security of God’s love and protection. On the other hand, it makes demands of us that are frightening in their consequences. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, represents a combination of the two aspects of religion. “I give my life for my sheep, ” . Those of us who follow Jesus must rely on God’s protection and must “endure many sufferings.” We must care for God’s people our brothers and sisters and many people have given their lives for them over many years. So in this year dedicated to the Faith let us remember the words of Jesus “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. Let us follow the Lord by taking up the crosses that he places before us so that we may grow in faith and be able to say in answer to the question that Jesus asks us who do you say I am You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”