Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Please allow me to ask you a question:
For you personally what does it mean for you to deny yourself, pick up your cross, and follow Jesus?
Myself included, sometimes we do not see the forest for the trees. We can do all sorts of good deeds but unless we truly do them in God’s name we are not properly fulfilling our mission as disciples. With regards to others, our intentional virtuous actions are intended to lead ourselves and others into a deeper relationship with God in hopes that we may enter heaven one day through the narrow gate. It is so easy to permit ourselves to become our own “God” and consequently allow our benevolence to be “ego” driven instead of being ignited by the gift of the Holy Spirit working abundantly in our lives. Recognizing pride within our own soul is key to becoming a conduit of the Holy Spirit.
In today’s Gospel reading from Mark we hear Jesus ask his disciples “But who do you say that I am?” Peter said to him in reply, “You are the Christ.” It is therefore through this witness of faith that all of our efforts are directed to making known that Jesus is the Christ, the Savior of the World. We can live out the proclamation by Peter that we hear in today’s Gospel. When we approach Jesus present to us in the Eucharist we can pray “You are the Christ” and allow that reality to transform our hearts.
As we prayerfully reflect on the twentieth anniversary of 9/11 we pause and think about those heroes who died that September day. We think about the forty heroes aboard Flight 93 who thwarted the high jackers who were headed to the U.S. Capitol. Due to their courageous and sacrificial valor, the plane went down in a field in Shanksville which is now a sacred burial ground for these heroic men and women. From the firefighters, police, and emergency personnel; there were countless heroes that day.
In today’s Gospel, we hear Jesus say, “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 and that of the gospel will save it.” In this, He calls us to live a life of sacrifice for others. He is the ultimate model of sacrificial love. All we have to do is look at a crucifix to be reminded of His great love for us.
The devil prowls about seeking the ruin and destruction of souls. We have the power of Christ to say “Get behind me Satan.” fully knowing that Satan has no authority over us and that Christ has triumphed over evil. We can become overwhelmed by the current state of affairs of this world. We must not succumb to the devil’s bidding or feel helpless but rather do our part to selflessly bring the light of Christ into our world.
We must model the virtue of those heroes on 9/11 by daily denying ourselves, picking up our crosses, and following Jesus. The message of the world tries to overshadow the life that we are called to live as disciples. On the contrary, the classroom of the world teaches us to “you do you” and says that “you are #1”. God gives us the freedom to choose to be selfless in our vocation; whether that be the vocation of the priesthood or religious life and being single or married. Each vocation comes with its unique challenges.
With the help of God’s grace that is poured out upon us, let us choose to joyfully endure our sufferings. The good works that we do flow from our faith in God. If we love God with all of our heart, mind and being then we naturally want to do good works in His name. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church explains, “Jesus’ death on the cross does not just cover up our sins or cut out our sins, but, by the work of the Holy Spirit, we are completely renewed and transformed.” (CCC 1990-1995).
By: Katie Tylinski, Director of Faith Formation, Christ Prince of Peace / St. Lawrence Parishes, and Christ the King / St. Gertrude Parishes