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Following Jesus in Good Times and Bad
Saturday of the Twenty-Fifth Week in Ordinary Time
While they were all amazed at his every deed, Jesus said to his disciples, “Pay attention to what I am telling you. The Son of Man is to be handed over to men.” But they did not understand this saying; its meaning was hidden from them so that they should not understand it, and they were afraid to ask him about this saying.
Opening Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus, I am grateful to have this time of prayer with you. Help me to grow in faith, hope, and love. Let me learn the lessons you wish to impart to me. I need your grace to renew, strengthen, and guide me in my discipleship. I also bring the souls entrusted to my intercession to you in this prayer.
- They Were Amazed: It was easy to be amazed at the words and deeds of Jesus. He “taught them as one having authority” (Mark 1:22), and his miracles left people even more astounded, saying, “We have seen incredible things today” (Luke 5:26). Consequently, enlightened by grace, Peter proclaimed Jesus to be the “Messiah of God” (Luke 9:20). When Our Lord’s words inspired and his miracles cured countless people, it was easy to follow him. He was popular and admired, and some of his admiration would reflect upon his closest collaborators. They could feed off the excitement; they could bask in his glory. It is easy to follow Jesus when things are going well, when prayer brings us consolation, and when our ministry meets with success.
- The Son of Man Is to Be Handed Over: However, Our Lord warned his apostles on various occasions that his life would suffer an ignominious ending (Luke 9:22 and Luke 17:25). The willingness to suffer with and for Christ is an essential aspect of discipleship.“If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23). To “daily” take up one’s cross implies that denying oneself is a constant disposition, and not merely reserved for the end of life. There will be many sacrifices required of us when we choose to live like Christ. Self-denial goes hand in hand with living his precept of charity since it seeks to place the needs of others before our own comfort and preferences.
- They Did Not Understand: Christ’s teaching of self-denial is hard to understand and even harder to live. It goes contrary to our sinfulness, which seeks to affirm oneself at the expense of others. The Catechism states that sin is a “failure in genuine love for God and neighbor [which]… injures human solidarity” (CCC 1849). Therefore, to renew charity in our lives, grace will pull us against the current of our selfishness: “Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat” (John 12:24). However, it is in dying to self that we can produce “much fruit” (John 12:24). We can only understand this principle with grace and experience.
Conversing with Christ: Dear Jesus, throughout my life I have received countless graces from you, which have brought me great joy: consolation in prayer, answered prayers, protection from harm and assistance with many needs, blessings at work and in my family. Help me also to appreciate the blessings that are costly, that challenge my comfort and way of thinking. Let me realize in practice that “all things work for good for those who love God” (Romans 8:28).
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will reflect on how some of the difficult moments in my life have brought blessings.
For Further Reflection: Read How the Virgin Mary can help you endure any suffering.
Written by Fr. John Bullock, LC.