Jesus said, “whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it.” Are you willing to lose your relatively comfortable life to care for those who are suffering around you? If you are, you can help or save others and inspire others to do the same.
We gather at Mass because of our faith in Jesus. We join Peter in proclaiming that Jesus is the Messiah. We believe that He is God made man who came to earth to give His life for us so that we could share in His everlasting life. If we believe in God, are we ready to put that faith into action? Can people identify us as Christians by the way we live our lives? Saint James tells us very pointedly in today’s second reading, “What good is it … if someone says he has faith but does not have works?”
In today’s gospel, Jesus gives us three ways to become people who put faith into action through love when He says, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.”
First, we must deny ourselves. If we are going to be able to put our faith into action, we may have to practice giving up comforts and luxuries. Being too comfortable may keep us from going out of our way for others. We must make time to fast from foods we like, spend less time consuming social media, and take up other small sacrifices. Though they might not seem like much, they will discipline our bodies so that, when the time comes to reach out to someone in need, we will be willing and able.
Secondly, we must take up our cross. Each of us will have a different cross. It may be a family member who needs our help or a lonely neighbor who needs a friend. Our cross might be illness or financial problems. If we embrace that cross with love, it will become a powerful means of transformation for us and the people around us. It is simply a matter of saying, “Jesus, I embrace this suffering out of love for you.”
Thirdly, we must follow Jesus. Jesus reached out to sinners, to the poor, and to those who needed healing. If we are to follow Jesus, then we must go where He would go, not just to church but to places where people are suffering. It might be a soup kitchen, a homeless shelter, or a nursing home. Like Jesus, we go there not just to help but to befriend people. We go there to learn from the poor and the sick because they have so much to teach us about the love of God.
At Mass, the love of God is made visible in the Eucharist which we will share. Jesus Christ who loved us enough to die on the cross for us gives Himself to us totally and completely through the Blessed Sacrament. If we believe, how can we not share that love with others? If we receive Jesus’ love into our hearts, how can we not then serve the suffering people around us? If we profess that Jesus is the Savior of the World, then we must deny ourselves, pick up our cross, and follow Him. That faith, put into action through love, will change the world.
Deacon Frank Iovine
(561) 2766892 Ext. 1305