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The Call to Courage
Friday of the Eighteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done. Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his Kingdom.”
Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, grant me the grace to truly know you and, in knowing you, love and follow you courageously as a faithful disciple.
- An Urgent Call for Courage: Today’s first reading sets up the perennial and universal drama of the tension between good and evil. Despite its specific historical context, the tension transcends times and cultures. Nahum prophesied the fall of Nineveh, the Assyrian empire’s capital. The prophecy came to fruition in 612 BC. Nahum preaches in a dark period of Nineveh’s history. Although there was a brief period of conversion following Jonah’s warnings around 760 BC, Judah was now steeped in the abomination of idolatry. Nahum highlighted God’s justice and readiness to punish the city for its sinfulness. Yet, he was aware of the small remnant of faithful and consoled them with promises of God’s restorative power. His words animated their struggle to remain faithful and courageous in the midst of the cultural and spiritual compromise taking place all around them.
- Daily Christian Courage: Jesus’ proclamation to “renounce self, take up the cross, and follow” is a hard command to live by. He doesn’t paint the scene with flowery words. “What will anyone gain by winning the whole world and forfeiting his life?” Jesus invites us to pick our crosses and remain firm in following him, no matter what the sacrifice. Our hearts are challenged by these conditions for discipleship of Christ, and we take consolation in Nahum’s promises of God’s restorative power.
- The Kingdom of God Is at Hand: After Jesus’ bold statement about discipleship, he affirmed himself as the Messiah. Jesus is God’s justice and restorative power in his very person. He lays bare the intentions of the soul, revealing the person’s orientation of heart, be it towards service and praise of the Lord or idolatry. He stated that there are those who will not see death before the Son of Man comes “in his Father’s glory” and “in his Kingdom.” He wishes to establish a new order in the hearts of man that glorifies the Father through the cross.
Conversing with Christ: Lord Jesus, grant me true courage to leave behind the “idols” in my heart and follow you despite the cost. May your grace be enough for me in the struggle to glorify you through daily crosses so that your restorative power can reign in my heart.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will be attentive to the pull of idols in my heart and turn in faith to your restorative power.
For Further Reflection: Discernment of Spirits, Rule 3.
Jennifer Ristine is a consecrated woman of Regnum Christi dedicated to spiritual and faith formation through teaching, conferences, writing, and spiritual direction. While serving in Ancient Magdala she wrote Mary Magdalene: Insights from Ancient Magdala and “Nine Days with Mary Magdalene.”