Christ Carrying the Cross, Tiziano Vecelli, c. 1565
Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man, if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life? Or what shall a man give in return for his life? For the Son of man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay every man for what he has done. Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.” Matthew 16:24-28
In this Gospel passage, Jesus tells us how to be one of His followers. Specifically, to be His disciple requires the denying of self. In this age of the unholy trinity – me, myself and I – these words of Jesus are hard to understand and follow. We live in a culture that honors and admires rugged individualism and personal satisfaction. Sacrifice and suffering are to be avoided at all costs. Yet Jesus is telling us that this is the way to eternal joy and happiness.