Jesus said to all, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. What profit is there for one to gain the whole world yet lose or forfeit himself.”
Who do I want to be? There can only really be one answer to this question: A Saint. What must I do? Follow God’s Will. And what is God’s Will? To love unconditionally. How can I do that? Only one way: Self-denial. That is, I must deny myself and take up my cross daily and follow the Lord.
Of course none of this is easy. But some of the best things in life are not easy. The Good News is that we have the perfect role model: Jesus Christ. What did he do? What must I do?
Baby steps: Before Christ traveled from town to town, he spent many years at home. Home is still the ideal place to learn the virtues and to practice self-denial. Moms and dads by now know that home is not where everything goes great but where everything can go seriously wrong. And that is ok, since the home (the family) is ideal for honest correction, detailed attention and love beyond belief (and relief). Learn to consider your home not a resort but a school. Success is not measured by how perfect you or your children are, but rather by the type of instruction they are receiving.
Concrete steps: Although written centuries ago, Sacred Scripture continues to inspire us much more than any novel written one hundred years ago; or movie viewed just a few years ago; or T.V. show watched a few seasons ago! Why? Because Scripture is sacred, it is inspired by God. It is honest communication, and highly practical, inspirational and spiritual food for the body and the soul. Scripture speaks and I enjoy. Today’s Gospel passage is the perfect message for a mom who was complaining just a few days ago about her young son. She recently sent me this very delightful e-mail.
“My friend and I have been having an ongoing laugh about the trials of being a stay at home mom. I was bemoaning the fact that I stayed home with the boys and my husband and I sacrificed for them, hoping to create a happy and loving childhood for them, but yet they had just told me they didn’t remember any of the things we did together! They didn’t remember any of it – trips to the zoo, hosting the neighborhood playgroup of TEN little boys, mornings at the playground…etc. I joked that I was going to write all these things down so they would know how hard I tried. Shortly after, I was giving away an old hand-me-down sofa. My son told me, “Oh mom! You can’t give away that sofa! It has my memories!” I immediately felt happy, thinking that he remembered all those times we spent curled up reading together on that sofa. But then he continued, “Yeah. I threw up on the arm of that sofa!”
My friend and I joked and we said that we were going to start taking photos and documenting all our efforts!”
If any mom, or dad, or husband or wife, etc. wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. Isn’t it beautiful how Scripture can speak to me right at the perfect moment? Isn’t it amazing how God works his miracles in mysterious ways? Self-denial does not come easily, but it does come naturally…it comes from God. And although it does come naturally, it is universally recognized, appreciated and considered as the most difficult, and yet ultimate, way to live life!
Don’t throw the baby out with the old sofa!
Everyone loves a generous giver. Everyone loves an unconditional friend. Everyone can recognize another Christ. Be that Christ today!