Thursday (February 15): Take up your cross daily and follow Christ

Meditation: Do you know the healing, transforming power of the cross? When Jesus predicted his passion his disciples were dismayed. Rejection and crucifixion meant defeat and condemnation, not victory and freedom. How could Jesus' self-denial, suffering and death lead to victory and life? Through his obedience to his Father's will, Jesus reversed the curse of Adam's disobedience. His death on the cross won pardon for the guilty, freedom for the oppressed, healing for the afflicted, and new life for those condemned to death. His death makes possible our freedom to live as sons and daughters of God.

Surrender to God and he will fill you with his Spirit
There's a certain paradox in God's economy. We lose what we gain, and we gain what we lose. When we try to run our life our own way, we end up losing it to futility. Only God can free us from our ignorance and sinful ways. When we surrender our lives to God, he gives us new life in his Spirit and the pledge of everlasting life with God. God wants us to be spiritually fit to love and serve him at all times and seasons. When the body is very weak or ill, we make every effort to nurse it back to health. How much more effort and attention should we give to the spiritual health of our mind, heart, and will!

The great exchange - my life for His victorious life
What will you give to God in exchange for freedom and eternal life? Are you ready to part with anything that might keep you from following him and his perfect plan for your life? Jesus poses these questions to challenge our assumptions about what is most profitable and worthwhile in life. In every decision of life we are making ourselves a certain kind of person. It is possible that some can gain all the things they set their heart on, only to wake up suddenly and discover that they missed the most important thing of all. A true disciple is ready to give up all that he or she has in exchange for true happiness, life, and peace with God. The life which God offers us is abundant, everlasting life. And the joy which God places in our hearts no sadness or loss can diminish.

The cross of Christ brings freedom and victory over sin
The cross of Jesus Christ leads to freedom and victory over sin and death. What is the cross which Christ commands me to take up each day as his disciple? When my will crosses with his will, then his will must be done. The way of the cross involves sacrifice, the sacrifice of laying down my life each and every day for Jesus' sake.  What makes such sacrifice possible and "sweet" is the love of God poured out for us in the blood of Jesus Christ. Paul the Apostle reminds us that "God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit" (Romans 5:5). We can never outmatch God. He always gives us more than we can expect or imagine. Are you ready to lose all for Christ in order to gain all with Christ?

"Lord Jesus, I give you my hands to do your work. I give you my feet to go your way. I give you my eyes to see as you do. I give you my tongue to speak your words.  I give you my mind that you may think in me. I give you my spirit that you may pray in me. Above all, I give you my heart that you may love in me, your Father, and all mankind. I give you my whole self that you may grow in me, so that it is you, Lord Jesus, who live and work and pray in me." (Prayer from The Grail)


This reflection is courtesy of Don Schwager, whose website is located at: http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/