Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Christ Comes with A Cross

Jesus said to his disciples:
“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

Jesus declares "whoever loses his life for my sake will save it." This is sacrifice: handing our imperfect self over to the One who responds by handing us back our true self through his gift of self on the cross. The Lord sets before us life and death and asks us to "choose life" by obediently taking up Christ's cross of death.

"Without a 'dying,' without the demise of what is simply our own, there is no communion with God and no redemption." (Pope Benedict XVI)

The modern secular version of Jesus is one that fits neatly alongside the feel good, don't hassle me, I'm too busy enjoying life mentality. Those in that school of thought parade Christ around like an Olympic Gold medal. "See how good I am, you can overlook all the other stuff I do." Christ is a vending machine, put in a prayer or two and you'll get that new car, new house, new job, new boyfriend or girlfriend. They may know their scripture but they don't know who Christ really is. Jesus is not about feeling good, sorry but that is the truth. There is no crossless Christ

Two mounts are related as the first and second acts in a two-act drama: the Mount of the Beatitudes and the Mount of Calvary. He who climbed the first to preach the Beatitudes must necessarily climb the second to practice what he preached. The unthinking often say the Sermon on the Mount Constitutes the "essence of Christianity." But let any man put these Beatitudes into practice in his own life and he too will draw down upon himself the wrath of the world. The Sermon on the Mount cannot be separated from His Crucifixion, anymore than day can be separated from night. The day Our Lord taught the Beatitudes, He signed His own death warrant. The sound of nails and hammers digging through human flesh were the echoes thrown back from the mountainside where He told men how to be happy...Everybody wants to be happy; but His ways were the very opposite of the ways of the world.

The Sermon on the Mount is so much at variance with all that our world holds dear that the world will crucify anyone who tries. to live up to its values. Because Christ preached them,'he had to die. Calvary was the price he paid for the Sermon on the Mount...

The Beatitudes cannot be taken alone; they are not ideals; they are hard facts and realities inseparable from the Cross of Calvary. What He taught was self-crucifixion... Those who heard Him preach the Beatitudes were invited to stretch themselves out on a cross, to find happiness on a higher level by death to a lower order, to despise all the world holds sacred, and to venerate as sacred all the world regards as an ideal.. .

On the Mount of the Beatitudes, He bade men hurl themselves on the cross of self-denial; on the Mount of Calvary, He embraced that very cross. Though the shadow of the Cross would not fall across the place of the skull until three years later, it was already in His Heart the day He preached on "How to be Happy'"

(Fulton Sheen, Life of Christ, 145-46, 15 1, 1 53-54)

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