I’m living in a world where the essence of Jesus’ message and today’s Gospel are the essence of consideration: “…pick up your own cross, deny yourself and follow the Lord”. This is the essence of a vocation, any and all vocations and this is what we want from someone discerning – to “own” these words for themselves. Whether we are living out our Christian Discipleship or coming to discover what our vocation is (how we will uniquely and completely live out that Discipleship) we need to prepare ourselves for these three things.
Picking Up Our Cross(es). Our lives will be filled with joy and blessing, we will feel “in sync” with the world around us when we have a good sense of what our meaning and purpose in this world is as Christians. But we must remember that while the greatest part is joy and fulfilment, the crosses we carry are every bit as important a part as the more positive stuff. We are actually formed more by our crosses and hardships than we are by the successes we experience in life. People that find success in everything they do and accustom themselves to only that, or don’t suffer along the way tend to have a hard time dealing with the hardships when they come (and they will come). Fear may keep us at first from embracing the crosses but we must remind ourselves that fear is a barrier to a truly Christian life. Pushing through our fears will lead us to the treasure of true and real faith and the treasure of holiness.
Denying Ourselves. Often we think our vocation or the Discipleship we are called to live is for ourselves – what is God’s plan for me! A vocation, Christian Discipleship is for others and the only way we can truly and fully give ourselves totally and completely for others is to deny ourselves in the process. We are not being called to give everything away and have nothing for ourselves; even Jesus took care of Himself as He ministered to others, but if we’re not prepared to deny ourselves we will deny others instead. We must allow ourselves to be vulnerable, to give, to be available – for others. And in doing so, we encourage others to do the same.
Following Christ. Last but most certainly not least is to follow Christ. The first two actions precede following Christ. In order to follow Christ we need to be like Him. He picked up His cross, not only just before Golgotha, but at Cana – when He began His ministry. He was prepared by God for that and then picked up the Cross. We know He denied Himself throughout the Gospel as He experienced the attacks from all sides and He followed God’s plan as we do.
In these holy days of Lent, as we consider our Lord’s plan for us, may we make this here our motto: Picking up Our Cross, Denying Ourselves & Following Him!