Sunday, September 09, 2007

Follow Him in Discipleship

These two statements by Jesus, “Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple” and “anyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions

cannot be my disciple,” have prompted many Christians over the centuries opportunities to examine our faith lives. The Lord allows us to examine our crosses and to define the necessity of the objects which surround us. Neither our crosses nor our possessions are enumerated in detail in Sacred Scripture. This makes the Word of God transcend space and time, eras and cultures. This makes the Word of God “alive” throughout salvation history. Our crosses today may not be the crosses of tomorrow.

Just like Jesus, we pick up our crosses, we suffer our own passions and death, yet we also have moments of resurrection. This is how we participate in—to a point—the Paschal Mystery, knowing that the fullness of that mystery will only occur at God’s time. Last week I mentioned that the three main objects in a Catholic church remind us of this great mystery: Jesus’ life in the ambo, His death in the Cross, His resurrection in the altar. During the Mass when we hear Sacred Scripture about man’s response to the intervention of God, we should place ourselves in the midst of those encounters. When we kneel at the Cross of our salvation we should do the same. And when heaven and earth meet at this altar we encounter our God over and over again.

In the Book of Revelations of St. John we read about that heavenly scenario with the multitude of believers praising God with “hosannas” and “amens”—praise and acknowledgment of His will. Our Mass today takes us to the throne of the Lamb of God, the Agnus Dei, which was slain for our transgressions. Our sin happens when we ignore our crosses, when we allow our possessions to own us. His blood covers those sins when we ask for pardon.

When Jesus says: “If anyone comes to me without hating … even his own life, he cannot be my disciple,” it calls the Christian to prioritize the things of heaven and earth. What is number one in our lives? There is a beautiful phrase in Spanish which I have heard often in this community—“Primero Dios”—God First. The people who say this indeed live what Jesus says in today’s gospel. Their towers have been constructed, and peace has been made by understanding and following the Will of the Lord in their lives … with crosses, and without possessions.

The ego is the thing which gets in the way of knowing one’s cross, of knowing what is unnecessary in our lives. The great “I,” “Me,” “We,” and “Us” stand between the human individual, the human community, and God. “What about my feelings?” and “Where is the community in all this?” are asked by those who have little understanding of the Will of God in their lives. “Me” and the “community” are the false gods of these people. They follow the cult of personality rather than the cult of the One, True God. They applaud human achievement rather than glorifying God. In 2000, then Cardinal Ratzinger in his book The Spirit of the Liturgy said: “Wherever applause breaks out in the liturgy because of some human achievement, it is a sure sign that the essence of liturgy has totally disappeared and been replaced by a kind of religious entertainment.” I say, entertainment surrounds itself with material possessions, entertainment knows no Cross. If you want entertainment go to a movie. If you want God come to Mass.

If you don’t have one on you now, when you arrive home later today, find a crucifix, place it in your pocket or around your neck and be reminded of what Jesus has done for you. Identify your pain and your poverty with that Sacred Body and recommit yourself to following Him in discipleship.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well we all surely do pick up our crosses every day??

12:57 AM  
Blogger Donna-Marie Cooper O'Boyle said...

I just found your blog. Thank you for this post on carrying our crosses and today's Gospel. It is certainly thought provoking. I also like Pope Benedict's quote about the applause.

God bless,

10:54 AM  
Blogger Cure of Ars said...

This Gospel reading is really calling us to the next level. God give us the grace.

Thanks Father for your insights.

3:28 PM  
Blogger paramedicgirl said...

Well said, Father!

8:04 PM  
Anonymous Mary said...

Beautiful homily, Father...I pray that your words sink into the hearts of all who heard them at Mass and read them here on your blog. It's all about him and less about us.

2:17 PM  

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