Friday of the Eighteenth Week in Ordinary Time [II]
Nahum 2:1,3;3:1-3,6-7 + Matthew 16:24-28
August 5, 2022
“Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.”
Our souls need nourishment and healing before we spend our selves trying to solve the problems of our own lives and those of the world. We must be willing to admit, first of all, that we are sinners, and that our sins seriously wound our souls. Our souls need not only the nourishment of prayer, but the healing that comes from the forgiveness of our sins. After all, it is in this regard that Jesus is our Messiah, our Savior. God the Son became human not to save us from the Caesar, or from the IRS, or from our neighbors: Jesus died to save us from the snares of the Devil. God the Son became human not to take away our worries, or our financial debts, or our arguments with others: Jesus died to take away our sins.
Once we regain this perspective in our lives, we realize how truly we need Christ’s help. Yet at the same time, we hear Christ’s words to his disciples in today’s Gospel passage: “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.” Christ has died for us on the Cross, but we must join in His saving work. We must do penance. We must organize the time and energies of our lives so that they draw others closer to God. In our speech, in the patience with which we do things and deal with others, through our charitable deeds, we can deny our sinful selves and become more like Christ. And in doing all this, we should never underestimate or believe that we can imagine what graces God will bestow upon us through acting by means of His grace.