“The Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.” Then he said to them all, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will save it. What does it profit them if they gain the whole world, but lose or forfeit themselves?
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
In this challenging teaching, Jesus reveals the place of suffering in the human experience. He who became fully human had to experience suffering of the deepest kind. Each of us, too, must embrace our crosses as a core element of who we are.
Jesus desires every part of us. When we follow him, we must face those areas of our lives that we would rather ignore, hide, or bury in distractions. To be a disciple is to be honest with ourselves and honest before God as we look to him for healing, hope, and guidance.
God’s ultimate desire for us is true freedom, and that is what we gain by letting go of our fear and selfish desires. This Lent, what do you need to let go of in order to pick up your cross and gain the lasting joy that is found only in Christ?
—Rachel Fitzgibbon serves as Retreat and Spirituality Coordinator at Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House, Barrington IL.
Lord Jesus, I cannot follow you
without first releasing the self-centeredness, fear, and comforts
I cling to in place of clinging to you.
Help me to let go of everything that stands in the way
of my embracing fully your call to follow you.
I desire to know your desire for me
and to do your will in all things.