livemoreParents do not wish bad things to happen to their children. Good business people do not want the economy to go sour. Healthy people do not want illness. We don’t want it to rain on our picnic! We have a natural instinct to avoid what we perceive as bad for us. We want good things in life.
Yet we hear in this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus telling us to act contrary to our human instincts! He is telling us to lose our life; to deny ourselves; to take up the cross! No wonder Peter rebukes him. Jesus teaches his disciples to let go of the old self so a new self can be given. Jesus’ followers must deny themselves, let go of self-will, human way of thinking in order to find Life. And it will take a lifetime to embrace this new Life.
The challenge is to let go so God can lead us. We are called to surrender ourselves. This is not without cost to us: lose our impatience with others; lose our insistence on having our own way; lose our desire to be comfortable with the familiar to move us toward new Life. In all of these and many other we are allowing God to refashion us into new selves imbued with new Life in Christ.

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  1. Today we place ourselves in the shoes of those called by God to do the hardest things. To follow Christ, to be prophetic is not easy and we often get it wrong. Sometimes we complain and struggle like Jeremiah (20:7-9), or we try to avoid the hardest parts of our calling like Peter encouraged Jesus to do in Matthew 16:21-27. Paul asks us to to transform ourselves and be transformed in order to live the Gospel. (Romans 12:1-2) It is not easy to follow a hard calling. It is not easy to be prophetic. It is not easy to follow the Gospel. Its okay to complain and to err in our understandings like Jeremiah and Peter as long as we know deeply that we are called and God’s word burns within us so it must be spoken. I am a Jeremiah. I complain that serving the poorest is hard, but I want to do it and I know I must do it- to be who I am to enact my very essence. . That is why Jesus says “take up your cross”-meaning take up the thing you must do no matter how hard it is. Can we use this Sunday to look at our lives and to take up those very hard parts of living the Gospel that are difficult for us. Jesus moved forward and beyond death, and we too live as we follow him in this.

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