Friday, February 20, 2009
Jesus teaches me and the crowd
In yesterday's Gospel (not reflected on here because of preparation for Sunday), Jesus asked his disciples, "Who do people say that I am?" And then he asked them, "But who do you say that I am?" Peter replied, "You are the Christ." Jesus then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer, be rejected, be killed, and then rise after three days.
In today's Gospel, Jesus says to both the crowd (including me) and the disciples: "Who ever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me." Jesus is still saying this to us. It is perhaps not what we want to hear, but it is part of following Jesus to carry one's cross and practice self-denial. Jesus continues by asking us a question that changed the life of at least one saint, "What profit is there for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?"
Jesus came that we may have life and have it abundantly. When we follow Jesus we are not carrying a cross alone. What is my cross? Am I able to carry it with joy? I wonder if joy is in proportion sometimes to my capacity to deny myself and live only for Jesus? I am convinced that Jesus wants us to be joyful, but that does not mean self-indulgence. I am trying to get ready for Lent which is less than a week away!