“If you want to follow me, deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me.”

Life is full of boundless possibilities, but in order to transform a possibility into a reality we have to choose – sacrificing the many in order to attain the one. Nothing is gain without something to give up. In life, we all make sacrifices, but it is the sacrifices that we make that don’t just mean we lose something but gain something better. We often face obstacles which require us to forfeit physical or emotional comfort in the service of something that matters more. Sacrifice is easier when we stay focused on what we are choosing rather than what are we giving up.

In today’s gospel passage, with unveiling of His identity, Jesus reveals His mission Jesus is about to suffer intensely. He is about to be humiliated, to be killed and to rise in three days’ time and discipleship that comes with both cost and reward.

There is deep suffering in the way to discipleship, suffering that comes from being true to the mission. The temptation is to avoid suffering. The problem with Peter is the same problem for all of us: we want to avoid suffering at all costs; even if it means turning our backs on the very one who has come to save us! Jesus tells us today to take up the Cross. We have to carry it as best as we can and embrace the Cross with God’s mercy and love.

The reality of being human means that we will suffer, just as we will experience happiness and comfort. During difficult times, it may be helpful to try to look beyond our cross. The gift is that along with our sacrifices and carrying our cross, Jesus is with us. Jesus will grace us with comfort and strength as we deal with our crosses.

It is love and mercy that lead us to embrace sacrifice. Our suffering and sacrifices would be of little value because of God’s sacrificial love for us. God is love, and from that perspective, do our sacrifices, pain and suffering will have essential meaning. We rather transform our sufferings into acts of faith and love for the glory of God.

Jesus came to give himself as a sacrifice for all people so that we could reconnect with God. Following Jesus isn’t easy, but it’s the only path that leads to life. May the Holy Spirit search our hearts and lead us to a deeper faith.

Source: Neo Jeremiah Voice of the Young Prophet September 3, 2017 issue.