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NAHUM1:15, 2:2, 3:1-3, 6-7 PSALM

DEUTERONOMY 32:35-41 MATTHEW 16:24-28.

Jesus tellls his disciples in today’s Gospel reading, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me,” and grammatically the word would is used to express an intention or a plan. It is also used to show that something might be likely or meant to happen under certain conditions.

It therefore means that following Jesus starts an intention or as a plan. It also shows that following Jesus comes with the condition of denying yourself and taking up your cross. If there is no self-denial then there will be no cross to bear.

To us today, these words of Jesus come to us when we have already made a decision to follow him. We already have the cross with us and so what is needed from us is a continuous denial of the self because sometimes situations of life may make us think of changing our decision of self denial and the resultant cross will not be there.

What Jesus tells his disciples requires a decision based on faith and therefore taking up the cross is not an invitation for us to start going around looking for crosses to bear. Looking for a cross to bear means plotting how to succeed yet that is not the logic of the kingdom of God no wonder Jesus says, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life!” The cross entails giving up on something.

Jesus did not go around looking for the cross to bear but his cross was occasioned by the circumstance of his consistent and insistent mission of service and truth.

Going round looking for a cross to bear may mean we may give up on the ones we come across if they do not impress us. Let us remember again that the cross comes from our decision of self-denial. What cross would the rich young man have carried had he sold all that he had and give to the poor and follow Jesus?

Since we have already denied ourselves and taken up the cross and followed Jesus, what is the value of a continuous decision making on taking up the cross? Continuous decision making on taking up the cross and concerning any other aspect of faith is an indispensable component of our faith because it involves a continuum of possible responses and take place over an extended period of time during which the response is continuously subject to modification.

As we all know faith requires a responsive action as a result of our choices and we can subject this response to modification if we weigh on the scale gaining our life or the whole world so as to see which one outweighs the other and stick to it. We can subject our response of faith to modification in relation to taking up the cross because the cross is not just a symbol of our identity as christians but a reminder of that moment in time when our identity as christians was called into question.

Has your faith been called into question in terms of peace, love, forgiveness, humility, generosity or even hospitality? Did you deny yourself in these aspects? What did you modify such that a cross came up?

Everyday we will be in situations that call us to deny ourselves, take up our crosses and follow Jesus, in relation to this, just what cross are you willing to take up or not to take up?


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