“The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised.”
Then he 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?” Luke 9: 22-25
ST. JOHN OF THE CROSS
St John of the Cross comments on this passage, which is cited in both Matthew and Mark.
“A genuine spirit seeks rather the distasteful in God than the delectable, leans more toward suffering than toward consolation, more toward going without everything for God than toward possession, and toward dryness and affliction than toward sweet consolation. It knows that this is the significance of following Christ and denying self, that the other method is perhaps a seeking of self in God—something entirely contrary to love. Seeking oneself in God is the same as looking for the caresses and consolations of God. Seeking God in oneself entails not only the desire to do without these consolations for God’s sake, but also the inclination to choose for love of Christ all that is most distasteful whether in God or in the world; and this is what loving God means” (A 2.7.5b).
If yesterday’s start was somber, today’s Gospel is no less so as Jesus speaks of the suffering and death that are to come in his life. With this Gospel, he is already anticipating what we will be celebrating during Holy Week when we follow him through his Passion. St. John of the Cross gives us an attitude we should have in following Jesus; and that is to have an orientation to what is more difficult than what is easier; to go by the path of most resistance rather than the least. He believes that if we do this, then we will be closer to putting the Gospel in practice than not. We will be more on target than off target. The final goal of all this for John of the Cross is not that we go about feeling like miserable human beings; but rather be united with God in the depths of our being.
Lord, God, you call us to follow your Son in imitation of his example by denying our very self, and taking up our cross daily. Grant, we ask, that we may do so by persevering in our commitments for Lent and thus arrive as the sons and daughters of your Kingdom. We ask this through Christ our Lord, Amen.
We invite you to add your reflections and prayers in the comments section below.
Adapted from A Lenten Journey with Jesus Christ and St. John of the Cross by Fr. George Mangiaracina O.C.D.