Many times we can tell who people are/what they are about by what they wear—police, military, medical professions, brides & grooms, clergy, etc. St. Paul writes to the Galatians, “all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourself with Christ.” What a great image! And this being clothed/covered with Christ takes us over; it becomes our identity.
Our Gospel passage today speaks to us of Jesus’ identity and His mission: His identity as “the Christ of God;” the mission of His saving Passion, death and resurrection. As people clothed with Christ, our identity and mission comes from His—from His self-giving sacrificial love that saves us from sin and death and brings forth newness of life by sharing in His life. Jesus says 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.”
This may seem a little gloomy perhaps. But it’s not that we’re to go out looking for pain and suffering. There’s generally no need for that anyway, since we know we come up against it in the course of just living life here on earth. And of course there are different kinds of suffering. But I think it’s important to remember here that love—true love—always involves a sacrifice. Love always involves a sacrifice. It takes something from us: our time, our energy, our stuff, our plans, our preferences. It entails putting our self aside [not always easy to do] for the good of another; it involves dying to our self for the good of another.
Love can become a cross because love risks heartbreak; love risks disappointment; love risks rejection, or even persecution. Love can become a cross when it calls us to put aside malice and hatred and revenge and resentment—easy feelings to have with something like the mass shooting in Orlando, or maybe sometimes even easy to have with someone as close to us as a spouse or parent. Love embraces the challenges of justice, of peace, of mercy, and of forgiveness.
Love has its costs; love has its consequences. Jesus never promised that if we follow Him we would have life easy or as we would like to have it; in fact, just the reverse. But in Christ this leads to glory; in Christ this leads not to death but to life.
The self-offering, self-giving love of Christ is present in a special way here in the sacrifice of the Mass, the Body & Blood of Christ truly present in the Holy Eucharist. And so, dear brothers and sisters, today let us allow the grace of this sacrament to help us cloth ourselves with Christ anew. Even in any suffering, this is our identity and our mission…and our path to life.
©2017 St. Peters Catholic Church Huron Ohio.
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