September 12, 2021 — Twenty-Fourth Sunday In Ordinary Time
IS 50:5-9A; PS 116:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 8-9; JAS 2:14-18; MK 8:27-35
“You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.”
Jesus’ words in our Gospel today challenge us to become imitators of Christ. This is not an easy request. It takes sacrifice, endurance, and commitment. Yet, it is profoundly rewarding.
As Peter professes that Jesus is Christ, Jesus begins to share that He will suffer, die, and rise. We can imagine that Peter, who is a close follower of Jesus, is taken back by these words. In his humanity Peter rebukes Him. Little does Peter know that this act is the greatest act of love that man will ever know.
In our humanity, oftentimes we too rebuke Jesus. We become angry when things don’t go our way, despair when we suffer, complain when life gets hard, cringe when we are uncomfortable, or selfishly live to satisfy ourselves. We want life to be easy, comfy, free from hardships, and in our best interest. We are missing profound moments to love and serve when we live a life like that.
Jesus encourages us to think, not as human beings, but as God. He is calling us not to look at life in relation to ourselves. Rather, He wants us to be open-minded and look at life in relation to God. This requires acceptance on our part — accepting the will of God and allowing it to mold us into Christ-like people.
Jesus re-echoes this message as He addresses His disciples saying, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.” We are Jesus’ disciples, and He is speaking those same words to us here and now.
Living a life of discipleship is not always easy. It requires us to be imitators of Christ — who suffered, died, and rose from the dead out of total love for each one of us. This means we are called to share in Christ’s sufferings by taking up our cross and following Him daily.
But what does this look like in our day-to-day lives?
We can start by making a firm resolution to follow Christ today, here and now, and renewing that resolution each day when we rise. This requires time with Him each day — speaking and listening.
We should also strive to pick up our crosses each day with Christ by our side. Our cross might be suffering from an illness, fighting an addiction, a day of screaming kids, or a period where things just don’t seem to go our way. Instead of avoiding these sufferings or complaining through them, we are called to carry them with Christ, allowing Him to transform us through them.
And we should strive to remain committed to Christ in every joy and every trial, never ceasing to follow Him. This means serving others even when we feel like serving ourselves, being open to what God is asking of us, and praising Him for every gift.
If we live life constantly focused on us, we will ultimately lose ourselves, but if we surrender our lives for Christ and His mission, we will gain eternal life and become more alive than we could have ever imagined, “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it.” This takes daily commitment and requires endurance in our faith, which can only be done through active discipleship.
St. James reminds us that active discipleship is lively, meaning, our lives must be an extension of our faith. Everything that we do reflects what we believe. We cannot just hold that belief in our hearts, but we need to share it by how we live each moment of each day.
This week let us sit in Jesus’ presence and listen to what He is calling us to at this point in our lives. Let us rise each day with a commitment to follow Him, carry our daily crosses with Him, and live in total gratitude and service to God, family, and neighbor.