Daily Reflection – Aug 5, 2016
Friday 5 August 2016
First Reading: Nahum 2:1, 3; 3:1-3, 6-7
It is I who deal death and give life
Deuteronomy 32:35-36, 39, 41
Gospel Reading: Matthew 16:24-28
Today’s Feast: The Dedication of the Basilica of St Mary Major (Optional Memorial)
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 each according to his conduct.
Amen, I say to you, there are some standing here
who will not taste death
until they see the Son of Man coming in his Kingdom.”
Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. (Matthew 16:24)
How far could you walk with a three-hundred-pound weight on your shoulders?
Some historians believe that Jesus’ cross could have weighed about three hundred pounds. This is why, they surmise, the Romans often had the condemned carry only the crossbeam—which still weighed more than one hundred pounds.
When we consider this kind of weight—not to mention the spiritual and emotional weight that the cross also entailed—we can appreciate the Bible telling us that Jesus understands our own suffering and challenges. He shared the same sorrows, pains, and weight of the crosses that we bear in our lives. This means that Jesus doesn’t just empathize with us. He suffers with us as well. That’s how much he loves us. He is willing to walk the same paths that we walk and help us along the way.
In the light of such love, we can see that Jesus’ call to take up our crosses and follow him is not a callous command to pick up our burdens and march. It’s an invitation to join him and to find our strength in his companionship.
Jesus knows that suffering can make us want to run and hide. But he also knows that if we try to follow him, he will make our yoke easier and our burden lighter.
This is the depth of Jesus’ love for you. He wants to help you carry your cross, just as Simon of Cyrene agreed to help carry Jesus’. He wants to wipe your face, just as Veronica wiped his. Most important, he wants to promise you, “Today you will be with me in Paradise,” just as he promised the good thief (Luke 23:43). Why wouldn’t we want to be united with him?
Times of suffering can bring us closer to God, or they can push us further away from him. It’s our choice. It may not be easy at the start, but staying close to Jesus in the midst of difficulties can bring us peace and comfort. All we need to do is take that first step.
“Lord, thank you for continuing to come to me when I need help. Thank you for walking alongside me and making my burdens lighter.”