Let us learn the lesson of following Jesus Christ?

Friday of the 18th Week

Nahum 2:1, 3:3:1-3, 6-7

Matthew 16:24-28

Today there is an optional memorial for the Dedication of the Basilica of St. Mary Major of Rome, so I thought I would celebrate the day for various reasons. First, I look for any reason to wear this beautiful vestment. Secondly, any day is a good day to honor the Blessed Mother, and finally, Mary fits well with our Gospel message today.

In our Gospel, Jesus says, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow him.” In this sentence, there is a three-fold pathway to holiness.

The first pathway is we ‘must” deny ourselves of some things in our lives. Jesus does not say, “I want you to consider this?” Instead, he says we must deny ourselves.

What I have discovered in my life in denying myself, Jesus doesn’t usually ask me to deny myself something earth-shattering. Instead, in asking me to deny myself, he is asking me to take the next step. I have also noticed these changes happen over time. So as long as I am moving forward, it is ok.

Secondly, Jesus says, “Take up your cross.” He does not say, “Pick a cross you would like to carry!” One of the things I like about our Church is the fifteen-foot cross with the corpus of Jesus. I like to think this is about the size of the cross that Jesus had to carry, and my cross seems much smaller.

Finally, Jesus says, “Follow me!” When we keep our eyes on Jesus and not try and lead, is when all of our lives will be at peace.

As we honor the Blessed Mother this day, may we ask her to intercede for us, to pick up our crosses and follow her son, Jesus?

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