The True Depths of Christian Love

Friday, February 17, 2017

Readings for Friday of the Sixth Week in Ordinary Time

Seven Holy Founders of the Servite Order – Optional Memorial

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Jesus summoned the crowd with his disciples and said to them, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.”  Mark 8:34

The first most fundamental question posed to us through this Scripture is this: Do you wish to come after Jesus?  Unless this question is answered first, the rest of what Jesus says will have no effect upon us.  So let’s look at that question.

Intellectually speaking, everyone reading this has most likely answered that question in the affirmative numerous times.  Each time you go to Mass, spend time praying, or read the Scriptures you are, in one way or another, saying, “Yes, I want to come after You, Lord.”  Most likely, we have all even said specific prayers by which we make the conscious choice to follow Christ.  But we should see much more than the need to simply make an intellectual choice in this passage.

The phrase, “Whoever wishes” seems to reveal even more than a decision, it also reveals a desire.  It reveals that a desire to follow Christ is not usually the first step in the process, it’s the last.  The first step is to come to an understanding of the truth and to profess it.  Secondly, we must will what we have chosen.  Thirdly, once grace begins to work on us to transform us, we begin to “wish” or “desire” all that Jesus wants of us and all that He calls us to embrace.

So what will we find ourselves “wishing” if we are following Christ with our whole being?  We will find that we desire what Jesus reveals next; namely, we will desire to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow in the footsteps of Jesus.  Do you desire that?

It’s easy to desire to love and be loved, at least on a more superficial level.  Hopefully, we all enjoy kind and caring words, both giving them and receiving them.  But the true love of Christ, following His example of love, requires a desire for selfless and sacrificial love.  This is the perfection of love!  We are called, ultimately, to love without even considering the cost or the demands that Christian love places upon us.  Or, to take it even further, we are called to love even that which is painful and difficult when it is the will of God.  His will most certainly includes acts of sacrifice.  True love, ultimately, desires even this.

Reflect, today, upon this most fundamental question.  Do you wish to come after Jesus and, therefore, are you ready and willing to embrace and even desire all that this entails.  You make the choice; God will place the desire in your heart.  Say “Yes” to Him and His Cross.  In the end, you will be eternally grateful you did.

Lord, I want to desire Your Cross.  I want to come to a level of love through which I desire to give myself completely to You, without counting the cost, and even desiring those acts which require great sacrifice.  You embraced Your Cross without reserve out of love for us.  Help me to imitate Your perfect example.  Jesus, I trust in You.

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