Memorial of Saint Dominic
First Reading: Nahum 2:1, 3, 3:1-3, 6-7
Responsorial Psalm: Deuteronomy 32
Gospel: Matthew 16:24-28
Have you ever thought about why it is so hard to say "no" to something or someone? If you have, then you probably realize that it is really not the act of saying no that is difficult, it is usually the reaction to that word that we do not like. Think about the last time you said no to someone, what was the reaction? Was it anger, frustration, disappointment, pain, etc? Is it just as hard to say no to yourself? Think about a time when you had to say no to yourself, how difficult was this to do? I know that there are many times that I do not feel like working out, then I start thinking of other things to do such as taking a nap or sitting in front of the TV with a big bowl of ice cream. It is during these times that I need to say "no" to myself. Now it is not the act of saying no that is hard, it is the following through with that "no" that is difficult.
We are told in the gospel today that we must deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Jesus. We realize that these may seem like very simple instructions, but as simple as they are, following through on them is very difficult. These instructions are the conditions for discipleship. To be a good and faithful follower of Jesus Christ we are to lose our life to Him. This means saying no to ourselves when we want to act on things that we want instead of what God has planned for us. Then we have to follow through on this "no", and that means picking up our crosses and carrying them on our journey. We all have different struggles and different things that weigh us down and try to pull us away from God, but we must persevere during these times. How do we do this? St. Paul tells us in the book of Romans to "...endure in affliction, persevere in prayer.(Rom 12:12)" If we try to carry our crosses by ourselves we will fail. Now I am not trying to be negative here, just realistic. But if we trust in the Lord and pray for His help and guidance, we will carry our crosses through our journey. Trust in the Lord and trust in His power in you.
We all know firsthand how difficult it is to carry our crosses through life. It can be so overwhelming to think about having to carry something the rest of our lives. I have a simple (yet difficult) solution for that. Take one day at a time. In football when running or working out, we used to always encourage each other that "you can do anything for ____ minutes!" The same mentality helps in our faith journey, "you can do anything for one day!" Take one day at a time, things will not seem so overwhelming then. We are instructed to not worry about tomorrow, so let us only trust for today and prepare to take on whatever this day brings.
“Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. (Mt 16:24)"
Heavenly Father we thank you for all that you give to us. Increase our faith and hope so that we might take up our crosses with courage and persevere though any hardships or struggles that we have. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.