The Cross and Self-Denial

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Reflection on the Gospel of the Friday
Of The Eighteenth Week In Ordinary Time

Matthew 16:24-28

Matthews Gospel is also known as the Upside-Down Gospel. This is because this theme shows Jesus quoting ideas opposite to that of the world; example: to be first – be last, to lead – be a servant, if someone hits you on one cheek – offer him the other cheek, etc. Today’s Gospel passage is in line with this theme;

  • “If any want to become my followers – let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.
  • For those who want to save their life – will lose it
  • and those who lose their life for my sake – will find it.

Why then is Jesus’ message opposite to that of the world? Because humanity in its ignorance and in shutting out God (wisdom) from its life, has stumbled from one error to the next. As a result it has further clouded its understanding of things, and has put value high value to things such as self, pride etc, when the opposite is the truth of God’s creation. Example; God has made humanity to self-gift itself to others, not look inward in selfishness. Humility is a God virtue, and a guiding light for humanity, wet humanity places more value on pride. This process of clouding God established truth can be best understood in the incident where the Pharisees come to Jesus inquiring about divorce in marriage. Jesus responds by stating God’s truth; there can be no divorce because the truth God established in the order of creating the universe and establishing marriage is that it is Good, and to do the opposite is wrong and deforming of humanity.

The basic understanding then is that society overlooks God’s Truths, which are also humanities truths, and creates a reality for itself that is far from what God established things to be. Man has also grown to be (this again is not in sync with God’s Truth), a creature of familiarity, comfort and desiring security, to keep his fears at out. So it is natural that if he wants to move back to God’s truth, he has to unlearn all that he learns from what the world teaches. This takes him away from self security – to trusting God, away from familiarity – to depending on God, he is in a way going from all that he knows and is comfortable with – to something new, which he is fully not certain about. This is a terrifying experience, because it is like uprooting a tree from the soil it grew in and moving it to another location, and re-planting it. This requires those who seek God and desire Him, to deny the world of where they have grown comfortable, let go of all the worldly values/understanding about security in money-power-self preservation. Only when one moves away from the world, where he is not himself for he is deformed by the world, will one discover himself and what it means to be created in God’s image and likeness.

Come Holy Spirt, help us to see things in the way they aught to be. Remove the scales from our eyes as once you did for Tobit, help us to see your truth and live the truth.

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