Friday, XIX Week of Ordinary Time, Year A

Take up you cross and follow me!

Readings: 1st: Nah 2:1. 3; 3, 1-3. 6-7; Ps Deu 32:35-36.39. 41; Gos: Mt 16:24-28

This brief reflection was written by Fr. Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a member of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans). He is a missionary in Puerto Rico, the island of enchantment. He is the Chancellor of the Dioceses of Fajardo-Humacao, Puerto Rico; the Parish Priest of Parroquia la Resurrección del Senor, Canovanas and the Major Superior of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans), Circumscription of Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic. For more details and comments contact him at:  canice_c_njoku@yahoo.com, canicechukwuemeka@gmail.com.

Today, the Friday of the eighteenth week of ordinary time, Christ gives us a very important lesson on the cost of discipleship.

So, today’s Gospel is a continuation of the words of Christ to Peter which he eventually generalized. This was in order that the rest of his disciples may equally know what the journey demands.

Christ said to them: “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.”

Indeed, these are strong words that can scare any person, but they are equally very true and honest words.

Through these words, Christ makes the cross an explicit demand for all of us. Also, he reminds us that the Christian journey is not a very easy one.

Rather, that it is full of obstacles. So, it requires a lot of sacrifice which is strongly symbolized in Christ’s own suffering and pain.

Often times, many of us think that once a Christian, suffering and difficulty disappear. Of course, some prosperity preachers have propagated and hyped this idea to the detriment of many of their followers.

The Cross is the consequence of the commitment freely accepted by Christ for our salvation. It is important to note that Christ told his disciples to take up “their own cross,” and not his, and follow him.

This simply means that, “the cross” will be different for each one of us. It may take different forms of something difficult, challenging or even tempting. Something not chosen, but has to be freely accepted.

Though not a very delightful adventure, but the good news is that, accepting our cross with courage and hope as Christ did, opens the door to abundant grace with which we confront and carry our own cross.

Another lesson for us in today’s gospel is that, to share in the glory of Christ, we have to share in his suffering. Of course, humanly speaking, this will make no sense, except through faith in Christ.

When we unite our suffering to that of Christ, we triumph in carrying our own cross. In this way, we appreciate the fact that, the way of the cross is the way of salvation, and that: “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning (Ps 30:5).

So, let us ask God to grant us the grace to fulfill this demand of discipleship with faith and courage in our daily journey.

Peace be with you.

Maranatha!

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