Jesus shocks the Apostles by revealing that they must be willing to follow Him in Crucifixion. Every Catholic man can grow in happiness by building the Virtue of Magnanimity so he can commit to the greatness of the Cross of Christ and by growing in the Virtue of Prayer so he can joyfully bear his own Cross. 

Liturgy

Thursday after Ash Wednesday – Lk 9:22-25

Commentary

After Feeding the 5000 and rejecting the crowd’s desire to make Him a nationalist Jewish Messiah-king, Jesus probes the Apostles about His identity, prompting Simon Peter to give his divinely inspired exaltation, Jesus is, “The Christ of God.” Now Jesus will begin to clarify to the Apostles what God intends for the Christ. 

Acknowledging He is the Christ (Jesus does not correct Peter), Jesus forbids the Apostles to reveal His identity for the time being; the Apostles will proclaim Jesus’ true identity after the Resurrection. Clarifying God’s plan, Jesus mysteriously alludes to the horrific death He will endure, death on a cross, a revelation that shocked the Apostles: the Messiah was to deliver Israel from bondage, not to be murdered; death by crucifixion, which was carried out by nailing a person to a wooden cross to slowly die, was reserved for runaway slaves, highway robbers and political revolutionaries; crucifixion was an extremely gruesome public execution tactic used by the Romans to humiliate and intimidate Jews; since the time of Moses, it was law that those “hung on a tree” (Deut 21:23) were cursed. 

A further shock, Jesus reveals the Apostles must also submit to self-sacrifice by picking up their own crosses and being willing to follow Him to a gruesome death, if they wish to be saved. Jesus calls on each of the Apostles and all disciples, to “take up his cross daily and follow Me.”  Jesus emphasizes that His death on the Cross must be accepted by His followers: those who are ashamed of His Cross will be rejected by Jesus after the Resurrection (v 26-27 omitted from the Liturgy). All of the Apostles (except Judas) will imitate Jesus’ heroic sacrifice by suffering greatly to spread the Gospel, and all of them will be martyred except for St. John, including a number who will be crucified. 

Be awed by Jesus Christ

Marvel at how Jesus demonstrates the Virtue of Perseverance and Courage (parts of Fortitude) as He fearlessly continues His earthly mission, despite having a clear knowledge of His coming rejection and murder, and how He calls men to imitate Him in self-sacrifice.

Commit to the greatness of the Cross

Realize: The Church blesses every Catholic man with the Lenten season, a time when a man renews his commitment to Jesus by imitating His Sacrifice on the Cross; a man who loves and seeks to imitate Jesus joyfully takes up the great work of carrying his own small cross and denies himself through mortifications during the 40 days of Lent. 

Believe: Reflect upon the heroic and manly sacrifice of The Cross (CCC 616-618).

Pray: Jesus, Perfection of Greatness, help me build the Virtue of Magnanimity (a part of Fortitude) so I make the life-long commitment to the greatness of the Cross and to regularly deny my selfish desires as an offering to You; help me start by making a difficult sacrifice for You during this Lenten season. 

Pray and joyfully bear your cross

Realize: Jesus warns that every Catholic man must “take up his cross daily and follow Me”; to heroically bear one’s cross with joy every day is beyond a man’s human wisdom and strength, and requires supernatural help from Jesus, help which a man must regularly ask for in prayer. 

Believe: Reflect upon the need for Daily Prayer (CCC 2659-2660).

Pray: Almighty and Most Merciful Father, help me build the Virtue of Prayer (a part of Justice) so I can receive Your wisdom and strength to joyfully carry my cross and grow in my ability to lead my family in daily prayer.