Today’s readings at Mass focus on the theme of discipleship. The Word of God puts before us the challenge of taking up the Cross as a condition of living the Christian life as a follower of Jesus. In the Gospel Jesus says to his disciples ‘If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me’. The message of the Gospel assures us that by carrying the cross of our struggles and remaining faithful to Jesus in our lives, we will be assured of the prize of eternal life with him in heaven. Sometimes we can think of the cross as something that weighs us down or as a symbol for the hardships of modern day life which we sometimes experience. Life can be challenging with many ups and downs, and human struggles along the way, but Jesus carries the cross with us during all of our struggles. We can bring to him all our problems and sufferings, trusting in the hope that his triumph over death on the cross brings, and allowing ourselves be transformed by the power of his healing love.
In the second reading Saint Paul proposes a way of Christian living which is truly pleasing to God. In his letter to the Romans he advises them not to model their lives on the behaviour of the world but to live a life in communion with God. His advice still holds relevance in today’s world which often challenges us to conform to what the culture is telling us rather than the Good News of the Gospel. Choosing to serve God by the actions of our lives is the essence of living the Christian life. By living in this way we grow in relationship with Jesus so that we can be recognised as his disciples in the world today. The call of discipleship can mean some concrete action such as going to those on the margins – the poor, the suffering, the needy and reaching out to them with the same unconditional love that Jesus loves us. To follow Jesus and live our Catholic faith is a radical decision but we should never feel alone as Christians or afraid to let Christ more and more into our lives. Jesus wants to makes his home in each of us, nourishing us with his love so that we can grow in holiness as we prepare to be heirs of eternal life. He really wants to speak to us and is working in our hearts, transforming us and urging us to face the future with confidence, trusting in his providence and living the Christian life with him. As modern day disciples of Jesus all we are asked to do is to be faithful to him and obedient to the duty of the present moment.