TWENTY-FOURTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
(Green) Cycle B/ Year I (September 13, 2015)
Is 50:4-9/Jas 2:14-18/Mk 8:27-35
In the gospel, Jesus challenges us to live His very life – the way of the cross – when He said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me” (Mk 8:34b). The way of the cross is the way of Christian discipleship and it is composed of four steps: to want to be disciple of Christ, to deny oneself, to take up the cross, and to follow Jesus. These steps are arranged in order that one cannot follow Christ without first doing the first three steps.
To want to be a disciple of Christ means to sit down and reflect on the consequences of following Jesus. It means to consider all the necessary sacrifices that one will have to face once he decides to follow Jesus. To follow Jesus demands a lot and one must be prepared for those demands once he commits to follow Him. It must be a one way trip and no turning back for to betray Jesus is the worst thing that a believer must never do.
To deny oneself is the necessary consequence once one decides to follow Jesus. To follow Jesus means to follow His teachings, plans and will for us. It demands that we sacrifice our own plans, wills and desires so as to summit to Jesus’. Self-denial is a must to those who wish to be Christians and it can never be bargained. It is an absolute condition to following Jesus because Jesus can never live in the person who never dies to himself. There can never be life of Jesus in us if what we live is our own life. The true Christian only lives the life of Christ: the way of the cross.
To take up the cross means to carry our personal obligations in life, whatever these are: obligations to the school, family, society, government, church, etc. And we have to carry our own crosses the way Jesus Christ carried His own cross: fulfilling the will of His heavenly Father. Jesus said: Not my will but your will be done. In performing our obligations, we must always consider the will of God so much so that if there is anything that is against the will of God in our obligations, then we are dispensed from such obligation because our obligations towards God is much higher than our obligations towards others. Moreover, we must see to it that all the things that we do glorify the name of the Lord.
After fulfilling the first three steps, then we can now follow Jesus. To follow Jesus means to go to Calvary. Jesus, carrying His cross, went to Calvary where He sacrificed His life for our sake and for our salvation. We too are following Jesus towards our own Calvary which is the sacrifice of ourselves. To follow Jesus means going towards the death of ourselves, our sinfulness and selfishness. It further means to be transformed into new persons, living not anymore our lives but the very life of Jesus Christ.
The way of the cross is the way towards a new life that naturally demands the death of our old self and selfish ways. It is a heroic life because it is the very life of Christ, our Savior and Lord. Let us ask the help and intercession of the Blessed Mother. May, through her prayers, we courageously follow Jesus Christ by surrendering everything that we are and have to God and by living the very life of Christ, the way of the cross.