REFLECTION | ‘Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself’

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Reflection file photo by Bernard Testa/InterAksyon.

Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly from the elders, the chief priest, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised. Then Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, “God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you.” He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.”

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? Or what can one give in exchange for his life? For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father’s glory, and then he will repay everyone according to his conduct.”
—Matthew 16: 21-27

What is the most important thing in a persons’ life? This question is a basic question that everyone must confront. Is it what one gets and enjoys in life or something that would last at the end time?

Is God vital in one’s life or otherwise? Everyone has his or her own story of faith. Faith in God is everyone’s concern, the God who may seen as one’s creator, savior, or sanctifier. And those who have faith in God are ought to follow his/her God.

For us Christians, God had become man and lived with us, and among us. God for so loved the world that he sent his only begotten son so that the relationship between God and man is restored. Jesus came and called us to himself. Some followed him and became his disciples.

Discipleship is following a master or teacher. It is very important for the disciple to know who is his/her master. Knowing the master is not only having his background checked nor the master’s records, but most importantly believing in the what the master is preaching and teaching.

Discipleship is a voluntary act and will never be coercive and intruding. Hence, Jesus said to his disciples: “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? Or what can one give in exchange for his life?

Following Jesus is not just proclaiming his name or praying to him, it is more than that. Following the Lord means one will lose his/her life in the Lord for one allows the Lord to rule one’s life. Following the Lord is denying oneself and radically following him, a total submission of oneself to God alone.

Like Jesus who suffered from the powers that be in his time, so too were the followers of him. Following Jesus has a cost, similar to what Jesus had undergone. “What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?” Or what can one give in exchange for his life? It is not easy to follow the Lord, the price is high. Denying oneself and taking up the cross for the sake of God that will lead one to his/her own passion and death.

In our relationships and works, we have to put God first, others second and oneself the last. When one follows the will of God, one must be willing and ready to sacrifice for the sake of the kingdom. One has to find meaning living one’s life in God. Others spend their lives serving God in whatever situation and capacity they are in. Some involve themselves in the building and strengthening of families and communities through dynamic renewal programs, in the various parish and church ministries, specific missions of the church as priest, religious and lay, and in the different mission frontiers. Discipleship therefore is following the Lord totally and wholly. To take the path of Jesus, the Son of God who became man. Jesus, the son of the Father who wanted to build the kingdom and who announced God’s kingdom is at hand.

Jesus told his disciples that “the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father’s glory, and then he will repay everyone according to his conduct.” Let us then follow Jesus truly and joyfully for authentic discipleship requires genuine commitment and dedication to do the will of God today.

Let us pray, reflect and truthfully ask ourselves:

Do I know my Lord fully? Do I know Him well?

Have I understood well the consequences of my baptism, of my Christian living, of my following of Jesus?

Am I ready to experience Jesus’ passion today?

Am I willing and ready to deny myself from worldly possessions and choose instead the basics of human living which is to love God and others?

Am I willing to take up my own cross with Jesus?

Have I really followed the Lord and considered myself as a true disciple of Him?

Prayer
Almighty and Ever- living God, may we follow you more closely so we can serve you lovingly. May we understand your will for us and follow you faithfully even in times of doubts and uncertainties. Touch our hearts so we can see and marvel your glory totally. We believe in you Lord and we have put our trust in you. This we ask through Christ or Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.

Intention
Let us pray for those who follow the Lord in whatever their chosen state of life—be it as priest, religious, or lay life. Let us also pray for peace throughout the world, especially in Marawi. Those who are persecuted because of their faith and beliefs, we also pray for strength and consolation.