In our Gospel today, Luke 9:23-26, Jesus tells his followers that if they want to follow him, they must deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow him.
To deny ourselves doesn’t mean just giving up sweets, wine or beer like Lent, it means having a heart transplant. Replacing our stony hearts that have walls built up around them from living in the world, and replacing them with hearts like Jesus, full of love, mercy and forgiveness. To deny ourselves requires us to give up anything that we want or seek that would hinder our doing the will of God.
To take up our cross means that we make a daily decision to follow Jesus, regardless of what it costs us personally or publicly! It means putting others ahead of ourselves, forgiving those who betrayed us, and helping those that are struggling under the weight of a heavy cross.
Jesus clearly lays out his terms for following him in today’s Gospel. If we want to experience the real heart of discipleship, then we have to meet Him on His terms. If we want to be true disciples, we must be willing to go all the way for Jesus. No turning back, no holding back, no laying down the cross. Until that happens in our life, we will never fully experience the wonderful life God has planned for us.
The question is, what are we willing to do to be his disciples?
De Colores, Deacon Kevin