Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.” Matthew 16:24
There is a very important word in this statement of Jesus. It’s the word “must.” Note that Jesus did not say that some of you may have to follow me by carrying your cross.
So the first question should be easy to answer. Do you wish to follow Jesus? In our heads that’s an easy question. Yes, of course we do. Wishing to follow Jesus means denying yourself and taking up your cross. Hmmm, so do you wish to follow Him? What crosses are you carrying in your life? Offer them up in prayer as a sacrifice for God. We all have crosses in our daily lives. Make use of them by telling God, that you will carry them for him.
Sometimes we fall into the foolish trap of thinking that we can “kinda” follow Him here and now and that all will be fine and we’ll certainly get into Heaven when we die. Maybe that’s true to a certain extent, but if that’s our thinking then we’re missing out on what life is all about and all that God has in store for us. We cannot attend mass here and there. We cannot say confession is not for us etc etc. We cannot pick and choose. None of this may be easy. There can always be excuses. If going to confession does not come easy, travel somewhere else, explore options to make it easier. We do not know when we will meet our Lord, go to confession, clean that slate in case our meeting with the Lord comes earlier than we would expect. Bring your soul back to a state of cleanliness that it had, the day it entered this world.
Denying yourself and taking up your cross is actually a far more glorious life than we could ever come up with on our own. It’s a blessed life of grace and the only path to ultimate fulfillment in life. Nothing could be better than completely entering into a life of total self-sacrifice by dying to ourselves.
Reflect, today, on whether or not you are willing to say “Yes” to this question not only with your head, but also with your whole life. Are you willing to embrace the life of sacrifice to which Jesus is calling you? What does that look like in your life? Say “Yes,” today, tomorrow and every day through your actions and you’ll see glorious things take place in your life.
Lord, I do wish to follow You and I choose, today, to deny all my selfishness. I choose to carry the cross of selfless living to which I am called. May I embrace my cross with joy and be transformed by You through that choice. Jesus, I trust in You.