Friday, August 7, 2015

Reflection: Matthew 16:24-28

Friday of the 18th Week in Ordinary Time – Matthew 16:24-28

Today Jesus speaks sobering words to his disciples. He tells them: “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny themselves, take up my cross, and follow me.” He warns his disciples that anyone who wishes to save his/her life will lose it! However, anyone who is willing to lose his/her life for Jesus’ sake, will find life!

Are you (and I) willing to deny ourselves and take up our cross and follow Jesus? Life typically presents us with a variety of crosses. Some of them are more difficult than others. However, it is never easy to accept a cross, be that illness, financial worries, family difficulties, depression, joblessness, etc. However, what may be helpful or detrimental to us is how we view our cross. Do we view it as a punishment from God? Or do we believe that crosses simply are part of our lives, just as joy and love are part of our human condition?

If we believe our crosses are a punishment, what is our belief system? Do we believe that God is a “punishing” God? Or do we realize that we have not made very good choices and our actions have brought consequences to our lives that we have to live with?

The reality of being human means that we will suffer, just as we will experience joy, love, peace and comfort. The gift is: when we are carrying a cross, Jesus is with us and he will help us to carry our cross. Jesus also will grace us with comfort, peace and strength as we deal with our cross.

During difficult times, it may be helpful to try to look beyond our cross. We can examine our lives and ask ourselves: who and what brings me joy, love and care? What are the gifts in my life? Even when we are carrying a very heavy cross, Jesus is with us, gifting and gracing us. However, we need to be awake and alert if we are to notice our gifts and graces.

Today I invite you to focus on the good in your life. If we do this, we may realize that there is 100 times more good in our lives than what is difficult. Today may Jesus open our minds and hearts to the many gifts we are being given!

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