Jesus reveals that every man must pick up his cross and follow Him. Every Catholic man can grow in happiness by building the Virtue of Sacrifice so he can embrace self-denial and sacrifice to follow Christ and by growing in the Virtue of Prudence so he frequently reflects upon The Four Last Things.
6th Week in Ordinary Time – Friday – Mk 8:34-9:1
After revealing His Divine Identity as the Messiah at the temple at Caesarea Philippi, contrary to long-held Jewish expectations that the Messiah would be a political savior and ruler who would restore Israel, Jesus revealed that He will be rejected, killed, and resurrected from the dead after three days. When Peter impulsively and disrespectfully seeks to correct Him, Jesus harshly rebukes Peter, likening his opposition to God’s plan to the rebellion of Satan.
After revealing that He will be killed, Jesus calls a multitude together and reveals that all those who wish to be saved must be willing to sacrifice and die. He proclaims that any man who desires to follow Him, must “pick up his cross”, a shocking demand: every person knew, either through personal witness or by vivid reports, of the grisly Roman execution method of public crucifixion; men were crucified on wooden crosses and Jewish law made it clear that men hung on a tree were cursed (Deut 21:23). Jesus makes a paradoxical promise, revealing that those who lose their lives actually are saved.
As He harshly warned Peter with a rebuke for Peter’s opposition, Jesus harshly rebukes the multitude, calling them an “adulterous and sinful generation”, echoing the extreme condemnation by the prophets of those who oppose God (Deut 32;5; Is 1:4; Jer 3:20). Going further, Jesus warns those who oppose Him (are “ashamed”) will be rejected by Him at the Judgment. Jesus now publicly reveals He is the long-awaited Messiah (Son of Man) and prophesizes that some of those present will witness His Divinity; His prophecy is fulfilled when the Apostles witness His Resurrection and Ascension.
Be awed by Jesus Christ
Soberly consider what Jesus requires of men who wish to be saved: Divine King, Jesus speaks with Divine Authority, definitively asserting what men must do for earthly and eternal salvation; the perfection of Sacrifice (a part of Justice), Jesus reveals that men must be willing to sacrifice everything for Him, including being willing to die a grisly death (crucifixion); He invokes Vindication, a part of Justice in which rewards and punishments are rendered, revealing that He will Judge men as worthy and unworthy based on their choice to accept Him or not.
Embrace self-denial and sacrifice to follow Christ
Realize: In contrast to the modern culture which promotes self-indulgence and emphasizes victimhood and entitlement, Jesus reveals the only path to salvation is for a man to follow His example on the Cross by being willing to deny himself and make heroic sacrifices for God and neighbor.
Believe: Reflect upon Christ’s call to Pick up your Cross (CCC 618, 1435, 1642, 1816, 2427, 2012-2016).
Pray: Jesus, Crucified Christ, help me build the Virtue of Sacrifice (a part of Justice) so I turn from self-indulgence to self-denial, commit to follow and sacrifice for You, and heroically give of myself to build Your Kingdom.
Frequently reflect upon the Four Last Things
Realize: While the current “adulterous and sinful generation” argues to ignore or accept even the most grievous sins, and aggressively seduces men with the pleasures of the moment, Jesus calls every Catholic man to solemnly confront the ultimate reality of death, Judgment, Heaven and Hell.
Believe: Reflect upon the Four Last Things (Death, Judgement, Heaven, and Hell; CCC 1020-1060).
Pray: Jesus, Divine Judge, help me build the Virtue of Prudence so I frequently recall the Four Last Things, have the foresight to see how my daily decisions effect my eternal destiny, and shrewdly choose to think and act in ways pleasing to You as I progress towards my own death and Judgment.