When ‘I’ can be hard to go – Friday, 18th Week in ordinary time- Matthew 16: 24-28
Chapters 14 to 17 of the Gospel of Matthew have the disciples of Jesus acknowledging who He truly is; the Son of God. The passage of today is a section of what is called, ‘Jesus’ first passion prediction’. The pericope of humiliation, suffering and death is sandwiched between two great narratives. These narratives reveal Jesus as the “Beloved Son of the Living God.”; namely the confession of Peter and the Transfiguration.
The passage of today has five saying, all addressed to the disciples. The first three which address the issues of the cost of discipleship, can be understood as a commentary on the great commandment to love God with all ones heart, soul and strength. The last two saying in verse 27 and 28 involve an apocalyptic picture (dealing with the end times) of the rewards of discipleship. (Taken from the JBC)
Jesus is highlighting two approaches to life. We can deny self and take up the cross or love self and ignore the cross. Interestingly, the cross is always at the centre of our decisions as Christians. Perhaps the reason why people seem alarmed when they read this text is because they do not recognize the meaning of the text and merely see it as five demands that Jesus makes on a disciple. Or perhaps, on reading verses like verse 26, which is greatly quoted as the verse of scripture that St Ignatius said to St Francis Xavier, in order to win him over to Christ, we think that such demands of discipleship are reserved for the saints and not for us.
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