Jesus said to his disciples,
“Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself,
take up his cross, and follow me.
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world
and forfeit his life?
Or what can one give in exchange for his life?
For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father’s glory,
and then he will repay each according to his conduct.
Amen, I say to you, there are some standing here
who will not taste death
until they see the Son of Man coming in his Kingdom.” MT 16:24-28
This gospel is at the top of my list of all time favorites! Jesus gets right to the point and it would be good for our souls to visit this gospel message daily. I have, “What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?” posted on my daily procedure in my classroom for a constant reminder. First, Jesus gives us the backbone of sainthood, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.” To deny ourselves we must sacrifice. This means to give our will to God at the beginning of each day and be humble recognizing we need Him. He is big and we are small. We have inherited a fallen human nature, but Jesus died so that we have the power through God’s grace to deny it with self-control, discipline, not giving in to every temptation, using our spiritual powers to know, love, serve God, do His will, and return to Him. To deny oneself and put on Christ will require suffering and carrying daily crosses. Prayer is absolutely necessary. Learn to be still and listen to God in your heart. Visit Him often at Mass and in the adoration chapel. Stay faithful to the sacraments which are the vehicle of God’s grace to us. Storm heaven with a daily rosary or two. Recognize God in every person He has put around you. Take care of someone who cannot take care of themselves and cannot return the favor. Ask St. Michael and the angels to protect you from evil. Ask Mary and Joseph to intercede for you with a litany of your favorite saints. Then, bear those daily crosses with dignity offering up your suffering as a small token of what your Savior and Creator have done for you. Each cross makes us stronger and draws us closer to Christ’s cross and the glory of heaven. Last, when we have made a conscious decision to make a personal and lasting commitment to Jesus, our Savior, denied ourselves, carried our crosses, we are ready to follow Jesus. We will be ridiculed by our own family and friends, non-believers, and haters, but “What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world (tons of Facebook friends, money, power, popularity, all the world has to offer) and forfeit your life (soul, eternal damnation)? God has done everything for us through His Son Jesus, now it is our choice. Choose wisely, the outcome is eternal.
Today’s challenge: Put a rock in your shoe (or one in each shoe), fast from something you enjoy, take 20 minutes and be completely silent, make some sacrifice for another. It’s Friday, Jesus died for you and me on this day. Be uncomfortable with Him today.
Become a saint!