(Part 146)


August 7, 2015

Today’s gospel:  Matthew 16:24-28

The New Evangelization will demand the highest levels of zeal and commitment. There are many who profess to be disciples, as they strive to follow and serve Jesus, and then there are those who are disciples according to Jesus’ standards. Jesus himself defines discipleship. “Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.’” (v.24). Here you see that Jesus was addressing disciples, but still, he defined what true discipleship is about.

A disciple is one who denies himself. In practical terms:

  • He does not look to personal power, position, perks or personal affirmation.
  • He does not seek to be recognized or even thanked for good work done.
  • Though he is first, he takes the last position.
  • He is obedient to the Master, and is submitted to those leaders placed over him.
  • He is able to take insult, oppression, rejection and betrayal, with patience, tolerance and forgiveness.
  • He gives his all, holding nothing back, certainly going way beyond comfort zones.

A disciple is one who takes up his cross. In practical terms:

  • He rejoices in suffering for the cause of Christ.
  • He understands that the authentic Christian life is very challenging and difficult and will entail much sacrifice and pain, and willingly pushes forward.
  • He does not give up when the going gets tough, but rather persists even more.
  • He looks to the good of all, including his enemies.

A disciple is one who follows Jesus. In practical terms:

  • He is totally obedient to God, including living out the hard teachings.
  • He has no other priorities but those of God, totally committed to His work and that of His Church.
  • He is determined to follow Jesus to heaven, and lives in this world as a pilgrim.

Why are all the above about being a true disciple of Jesus? Well, if our posture is not fully the above, then sooner or later we will succumb to the lesser ideals that we have, even as we continue to serve the Lord. If we do not aspire to the loftiest ideals, then inevitably we give less of ourselves, and then ultimately we would lose our way.

Many Christians do not want to deny themselves or take up their crosses, because they look to their lives and think that such self-denial and embrace of the cross are not what will give them joy and fulfillment. But as Jesus says, “whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (v.25). We look to our own well-being and we will eventually lose out. We abandon ourselves to Jesus and allow him to take care of us and we will eventually gain it all.

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