THE COST OF FOLLOWING JESUS

Friday, 18th Week in Ordinary Time

            “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.”

            First, we must deny ourselves. To deny oneself is to say, “I do not know myself.” “It is to ignore the very existence of oneself.” To deny oneself means in every moment of life to say NO to self and YES to God. It implies moving from being self-centered to being God-centered. It implies setting aside our selfish ambitions and egotistic projects in order to follow God’s plans and purposes for us. It implies renouncing the attitude of having things for ourselves and adopting a life of letting go of things to be free to follow Jesus. It implies giving up the pursuit of pleasure or self-indulgence, rejecting the distorted values of materialism –of working to death to have more for ourselves, of accumulating and hoarding of material things, of overly providing for comfort and convenience –rejecting these and embracing the gospel values of poverty and simplicity, of sacrifice and renunciation. To deny oneself means to dethrone self as the dominant principle of life, and to make God the ruling principle of life.

            Second, we must take up our cross. It may be the cross that we must carry as we strive to have better and more meaningful relationships with others –including those who are difficult to relate with. It may be the cross that we must carry as we bring our family loser to one another and closer to God –not only when it is in crisis, but also in good times. It may be the cross that we must carry as we serve our community by selflessly sharing our time, talent and treasure –to share not only from our surplus but even from our wants.

            Third, we must follow Jesus. If we want to be true followers of Jesus, we must leave everything that hinders us from following Jesus. It could be our lack of commitment to live by the gospel values, because we are already living the distorted values of the world. It could be our reluctance to use God’s gifts to serve our community, because we are too busy with personal and family concerns. It could be our failure to be good stewards of God’s gifts, because we consider his gifts as our private property.

            “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.”

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