Please note the excellent faith formation opportunities online from Jordan Ministry. Br. Silas is the leader of this Salvatorian ministry.
Is it easy to be a Christian? Our readings this weekend shout NO! Jeremiah is discouraged by the rejection and grief he gets for sharing God’s message with his countrymen. St. Paul urges the Romans to “offer their bodies as living sacrifices,” meaning be counter cultural, not conforming to what was happening around them. In the Gospel, Jesus says his disciples need to deny self, take up the cross, and lose their lives. All of this sounds very depressing. Why would a sane person choose to be part of all this?
One way to look at it is to focus on this statement Jesus makes, following his demands for denying self and taking up the cross: whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. The call of the Gospel is a paradox, turning upside down the wisdom of the world. Human wisdom says that we have to take care of ourselves, that we need to protect ourselves, that it is about US. Money, things, good looks, power, popularity – these are what will bring us happiness, that will help us “find life.”
Jesus claims, by His words and example, the opposite. When we try to find our lives this way, we lose. The real way to find happiness, peace, and meaning in life is by denying self (read: not thinking just of myself but thinking of others) and taking up my cross (read: being willing to sacrifice for others, to be inconvenienced by serving others, etc.). When we can live not just for ourselves but for others, we will find true peace and happiness from the meaning that our life will obtain. We will be truly blessed.
Peter wanted a powerful messiah. James and John wanted to be first and second. The disciples argued over who would be “first in the kingdom.” They didn’t get it until after Jesus’ stark example of taking up His cross and the gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.
My friends, we have the Gospel and 2000 years of history that show us the truth of Jesus’ claim. We have the gift of the Holy Spirit. Our readings this weekend invite us to deny ourselves and take up the cross by being concerned in an active and meaningful way for others, especially the most needy and forgotten. How are we doing?
God bless and be safe.