Friday of 18th Week of OT C

Deny Himself and Take Up His Cross to Follow

It seems that to follow the Lord Jesus Christ is not all about fun, happy, and peaceful, but it might be suffering, sad, and might cost one’s life as well. In today’s Gospel, Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.” First, it is an invitation for those who want to follow him. Second, it is to come after him and not ahead of him. Third, whoever wants to follow him must take his own cross, carry his own difficulty and challenge of life and follow him.

Most of us has no problem to respond to his invitation to follow him, but when it comes to come after him, we might have problem. Have we ever wanted to be recognized when we’ve done something good for someone? If the person that we helped either intentionally or unintentionally didn’t say thanks to us, we might get hurt and never want to help again. We might misunderstand the intention of helping others is to glorify the Lord and not to make us look better or holier than anybody else. Finally, to follow the Lord Jesus is also an invitation for us to take up our own cross, our own difficulty and challenge of life to follow the Lord. Some of us might have no problem to help others, but we neglect to take our own family. The Lord Jesus doesn’t ask us to look for the cross, to look for difficulty and challenge of life, but to carry the cross, to accept the challenge and difficulty of life. The question then, how would you and I take up our own cross in following the Lord Jesus & his teaching? There are two ways of following the Lord Jesus that Saint Don Bosco once imagined this.

One day, the Lord Jesus asked Peter and John to follow him to the mountain to pray. On their way, he asked each of them carried with him a little rock. Peter took a little rock and placed in his pocket, while John in his general generous heart took a big rock and carried with him. Of-course, Peter reached to the mountain top first since he only carried a small rock, while John was exhausted came after Peter because of him carrying a big rock. On the top of the mountain, Jesus asked them to sit. He gave blessing and made that two rocks become bread for them to eat. Peter’s rock, since it was small, it turned into a small piece of bread; while John, with his big rock turned into a big bread to eat.

Another time, Jesus again asked these two to follow him to the mountain top and carried with them a rock. Peter learned from the last lesson carried with him a big rock this time. When they reached to the mountain top, the Lord Jesus asked them to sit on their own rock. Peter was exhausted sitting on his own rock and waited for miracle, but there was no miracle. Jesus told Peter that it’s not that he made rock turned into bread all the time. Generosity, he said, had to come from a generous heart without selfish focusing on one’s own benefit. To follow the Lord Jesus is to come after him and carry one’s own cross to follow him. Have you and I had courage and strength to follow the Lord Jesus by humbling ourselves to come after the Lord and to carry our own suffering and difficulty to follow the Lord?

 

Weekday Homilies 2019

Homilies by Fr. Joseph Thang Nguyen


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