Jesus confirms His men must sacrifice and that all men will face the consequences of their lives. Every Catholic man can grow in happiness by seeking the Gift of Knowledge from the Holy Spirit so he can be inspired by the reality of his immortal soul and by building the Virtue of Magnanimity so he can pursue the great work of imitating the Lord by carrying his own cross.
18th Week in Ordinary time – Friday – Mt 16:24-28
Having revealed the shocking truth of His coming Passion, Jesus further shocks the Apostles by revealing that they, and all of the disciples of Jesus, must be willing to endure extreme suffering and that men will be judged and rewarded based on their conduct, including their willingness to die for Christ.
Jesus’ call that disciples must pick up the means of death (the Cross) if they wish to be disciples was a shocking requirement, for all men would have been exposed to the gruesome and excruciating evil of human crucifixion publicly practiced by the Romans, a practice they deliberately used to frighten the conquered masses into submission to Roman rule. The Cross was, and is, shocking, for every human has been given the natural instinct to preserve life and to avoid death. Jesus’ meaning is not simply figurative, for He explicitly says that men must be willing to “forfeit” their lives. This sacrifice, that Jesus has announced that He Himself will endure, is a requirement that all disciples must also be willing to endure; if a man is to be a disciple of Jesus, he must be willing to lay down his life for Jesus’ sake.
Jesus then reveals the reason why disciples should be willing to die for the Gospel is because by being willing to die for Christ will ensure their eternal salvation. Jesus, assisted by angels, reveals that He will judge and will “repay every man for what he has done.” In addition to being willing to die for Him, elsewhere, Jesus describes that the basis for His judgment includes what men think (Mt 5:28-30), what they say (Mt 12:36-37), and what they do (Mt 7:21), including acts of forgiveness (Mt 6:14-15) and works of mercy (Mt 25:31-46). Jesus’ astounding promise that some of the men present will “see the Son of Man coming in His Kingdom” will soon come true in His Resurrection and Ascension.
Be awed by Jesus Christ
Soberly consider with holy fear what Jesus, the perfection of Justice, reveals here: the perfection of Sacrifice, Jesus will demonstrate the heroic Sacrifice (a part of Justice) to which He calls men when He is crucified on the Cross; confirming Vindication (a part of Justice by which men are rewarded or punished for their thoughts and deeds), Jesus, the Divine Judge, reveals every man will be repaid for “what they have done.”
Marvel at the reality of your immortal soul
Realize: While some deny the reality of the soul, Jesus confirms that God has given every man an immortal soul that will exist after the death of the body.
Believe: Review the Catechism’s teaching on the Body and Soul (CCC 362-368, 382).
Pray: Holy Spirit, give me the Gift of Knowledge so I can more clearly grasp the supernatural reality that I have an eternal soul and I frequently experience the peace of knowing You reside in my soul.
Carry your cross to imitate your Lord
Realize: Jesus’ shocking command that every Catholic man must “pick up his cross” can lose its visceral impact because modern men have been desensitized by seeing countless crucifixes, most of which do not portray the bloody and grisly reality of the actual Crucifixion.
Believe: Reflect upon The Crucifixion and The Sign of the Cross (CCC 598, 616-618, 1235, 1816, 2157, 2166).
Pray: Jesus, Crucified Christ, help me build the Virtue of Magnanimity (a part of Fortitude) so I hold true to the heroic and frightening reality of my commitment to suffer with You and always revere and tremble at the Sign of Your Cross.