This past Sunday’s Gospel (Mark 8:27-35) tells us that after Peter’s astounding profession of faith, Jesus brings about the requirement for his followers: that is they are to follow the way of the Cross through which Jesus suffered, died and rose again for our salvation. Jesus, by his teaching, brings people to the understanding of the truth and of his own Cross which leads to redemption and life.
Jesus’ followers will receive their benefits (Mark 10:28-31), but in their lives, they will have to face many difficulties, suffering, persecution, and especially the reality of Jesus’ crucifixion. The life of discipleship cannot be separated from sacrifice or suffering. This life of sacrifice includes self-denial and cross-bearing which describe what it means to follow Christ – the suffering Servant. Self-denial means giving up all our thoughts, words and actions that go against the will of God. It also means denying our sinful self to put on a new self with the spirit of God and embarking on a lifelong journey in which we allow Jesus’ identity to shape our own so that we will become more Christ-like. Cross-bearing is accepting difficulties, arduousness, and misfortunes that might come to us in this fallen world, and maybe persecution resulting from following Christ.
Let us ask the Lord for his grace so that we may always courageously profess our faith in him. Our profession of faith in Jesus should not stop at mere words, but we make it authentic in our way of living with our concrete choices: choosing and following the narrow way, the way of the Cross that Jesus Christ underwent.
Fr Tang Phan