Gospel Reading LK 9:22-25
Jesus said to his disciples:
“The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected
by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes,
and be killed and on the third day be raised.”
Then he said to all,
“If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself
and take up his cross daily and follow me.
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.
What profit is there for one to gain the whole world
yet lose or forfeit himself?”
Listen to Daily Bread Radio program on today’s Gospel by Father Al Lauer, Founder of Presentation Ministries, a lay apostalate of evangelization, in Cincinnati, OH. A Call to Obedience by God’s standards CLICK HERE
Today’s Gospel is not a very cheerful topic. However, a good part of Lent is actually a spiritual reality check from a God who is madly in love with us. And guess what, if we live in the United States, this message of picking up our cross is a real challenge. Why? It is very difficult to NOT be affected by a culture we are immersed in. A culture saturated by a “me first”, pleasure and comfort seeking mind set. So today’s Gospel challenges us to go against not only our self-centered, human inclination, but a deeply ingrained cultural norm of “me first”.
How do we pick up our cross and follow Jesus? How do we accomplish this? We make a conscious decision to put God first, and in doing so, we also put others first. Easier said, than done, I agree. Like any effective fitness plan, you are not going to be able to run a marathon without training little by little every day. Maybe you begin by walking 3x per week for 15 minutes and build on that. I like the marathon analogy, because isn’t being a disciple of Jesus, like running a spiritual marathon? Being able to pick up our cross really requires God’s grace. We get that by following God, and that requires an active prayer life. It requires listening to God. It requires an exercise program of prayer. It requires creating a similar plan as if you were going to run a marathon. It starts with a decision to follow God, and a commitment and follow-through plan to pray, let’s say for 5 minutes every morning. It requires allowing God to increase while we decrease. It requires…here’s the word no one wants to hear….“sacrifice”. Ouch! I know!
So I encourage and challenge you to take a five-minute plunge today and every day into the classroom of silence, spent with the Lord in prayer, and see what happens. I hope you can increase your “running” time with the Lord to maybe even a whopping 30-minutes a day by the end of Lent.
I’ll pray for you, you pray for me!