Friday of the 6th Week of the Year

Mk 8:34-9:1

The Conditions of Discipleship


Here are some lines from an email I received from a good friend.

“Funny how people want to get a front seat at any game or concert, but scramble to get a back seat at church services. Funny how we can’t think of anything to say when we pray but don’t have difficulty thinking of things to talk about to a friend.”

One’s spiritual life seems not to get enough property. Let me add some lines of my own: “Funny how people could work themselves to death, making millions and sacrificing their significant relationships, their honesty as persons, quality time for family and for themselves, yet they could not bring with them even a single cent when they die.” Funny? Nobody is laughing for this is one hard reality that’s no laughing matter. See how our Lord is so serious in imparting to us this message in today’s gospel.

Life is short. We have to make full use of the time and opportunities given us. Are we in good relationships with most people? Have we given time for our families? What are our priorities in life? Do we give ourselves ample time to be alone and be in solitude? If our answers are “No” to most of these questions, there is a need to rethink our lives for we are making the best of opportunities to work for a greater life that awaits us all. (Fr. Emmanuel Menguito, SVD Bible Diary 2004)


Today, Jesus summons, “If you want to be my disciple, deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me.” Three imperatives to remember: Deny, Take and Follow. These commands put together mean DISCIPLESHIP.

But how can Jesus attract disciples if he promises cross and denial?

Ironically, the more Jesus demands suffering, the more people get attracted to Him. The willingness to suffer for Christ is the ultimate expression of discipleship. The invitation to follow Him is far more consoling than the suffering experienced on the way. One who is truly attracted to Jesus focuses more on the intensity of the call than the pain of suffering. Think of the martyrs.

In difficult moments, are we more focused on the beauty of the call to follow Jesus rather than the suffering itself? (Fr. Aris Martin, SVD Bible Diary 2006)


A text message sent to me reads: “Life without Jesus is lonely, insecure, full of doubts, empty. But life with Jesus is lively, inspiring, full of hope and enthusiasm.”

This text message however has to be given a reality check by Jesus’ words in today’s gospel, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily and follow me.” This verse enumerates the requirements of becoming a disciple of Jesus. First is to deny oneself. This implies obeying God and not oneself. Jesus also asks us to be ready to lose one’s life for others; a sort of a reminder that nobody lives for himself/herself. Second is to take up one’s cross,, to renounce even the most cherished and dear to oneself. Third is to follow Him, to fix one’s eyes and heart to God and His will.

Oh yes, there will be lots of lonely and insecure moments, loads of doubts and bouts with emptiness. But again, it is from these conditions that love, inspiration, hope and enthusiasm take root, grow and blossom. Time to renew our commitment to follow Jesus! (Fr. Ronillo B. Ordenes, SVD Bible Diary 2007)


“Follow the Leader” is one of the games that we as children enjoyed playing because of the thrill of being able to do whatever the leader did. The more difficult the leader’s action was, the more we were challenged to imitate it and we were indeed excited when our every effort was met with success.

It today’s gospel Jesus says: Whoever wishes to be my disciple must take up his cross and follow me.” In other words, anyone who freely chooses and decides to be Christ’s companion is challenged to live life with its burden of failures and sorrows, trials and problems, sufferings and pains, anxieties and fears, the way Christ lived His life on earth. How did Jesus live His life as a human being “like in all things except sin?” how did He carry His cross? It was all in faithful and complete obedience to the Father’s will and in humble, loving service for others.

Jesus is not just “playing the leader” in our life; He is truly our leader, guide and model who walks before us on the way of the cross to show us how to live our life and bear our sufferings, to help us see in our life with its burdens and to give us courage, strength, hope and joy as we make our journey to the Father.

How thrilled and persevering are we in following Jesus, in focusing on His person and His teachings, in making sincere efforts to cope with the challenge to become more and more like Him? Are we aware that at the end of our life if we faithfully follow Jesus, the Father will see in us the likeness of His Beloved Son? Jesus will truly take delight in presenting us to the Father as His brothers and sisters whom He cannot deny or cast aside since we shall have become like Him. (Sis. Mary Pauline, SSpS Bible Diary 2008)


CROSS AND LIFE: What is sign of Christianity? The Cross. As the star of David is the sign of the Jews, the Cross is the sign of all Christians. We are known as the religion of the cross. Today the Lord reminds us again of that reality, that the Cross and Christianity must always go together.

How do we know the crosses of life?  For most of us, our general understanding is, when it is painful, when it is heavy, when it causes us suffering, we call that a cross. Is that correct?

Well, let me clarify. The cross and suffering do not make a Christian. The most important component of the Cross is not that it causes pain, not that it causes suffering. The most important component of the Cross is that it gives life to others. When our sufferings do not give life to others that is not the Cross of Christ. That is our own foolishness. When our pains do not bring life to others that is not the Cross of Christ because the Cross of Christ always gives life. The Cross of Christ always leads to the resurrection.

When we refer to the Cross only as pain; when we refer to the cross only as suffering; when we refer to the cross only as problems, that is the pagan understanding of the cross. The cross, for it to be Christian Cross, must give life to others.  in other words,  every time we live life, even if there is no pain, it is a cross. Every time we are instruments of life, a consolation and hope for other people, even if it does not cause us to suffer, even if it does entail that much sacrifice, all that maybe called a cross. The Cross is a blessing. The Cross is life. That is what Christ teaches us today.

When the Lord tells us today in the Gospel: “Carry your crosses daily and follow me,” what He means is not only for us to carry our pains and sufferings daily. What He means is we must give life to others all the time. That is the way to follow Me. Give consolation and hope to other people all the time. That is the way to follow Me.

Every time we make the Sign of the Cross, we are blessed. Every time we make the sign of the Cross we enter into life. Every time we make the sign of the Cross on ourselves, we celebrate life. So what pain, what suffering, what problem are we talking about when we think about the Cross?

The most important component of the Cross is love and life. (Bp. Soc Villegas DD, Love Like Jesus p. 56-57)


On the Feast of Corpus Christi, Cardinal Georg Sterzinsky of the Archdiocese of Berlin invited the faithful to a diocesan celebration of the Holy Mass, this time outside the cathedral. After the Mass, there was a procession through the affluent streets of Berlin. This expression of faith in public received various reactions from the general public, like tourists, curious passersby and busy shoppers. Such “religious indifference” prevails not only in this capital city of Germany, where only about nine percent of the population are Catholics, but also in many European countries.

Jesus in today’s gospel reminded those who are ashamed of Him and His words, that He Himself will be ashamed of them in His Father’s glory. The public expression of faith, religiosity and spirituality is a great challenge for many believers, especially in countries where they are only a minority or in places where Christians are prohibited to exercise religious events in public.

For us Filipinos abroad, being a missionary is not an easy task. The joy of praying which we experienced in the Philippines is no longer felt in many places where we live and work. Some of us experience a ‘faith shock.’ The faith which is alive in many homes and spoken in the streets, inside jeepney and in malls is no longer there. This sudden change of ‘faith atmosphere’ is not easy for some. But still this faith we received at home gives the strength we need, especially during difficult and trying times while we are away from our loved ones. These challenges make our witnessing to others a real mission of carrying our cross daily to follow Christ through death and resurrection.

Let us thank God for the gift of faith we received from our parents, relatives, teachers, catechists and priests. Let us treasure this faith and let it grow. Let us share the joy of believing with others. Pope Benedict XVI inspires us when he said: “Whoever believes in me will never be alone.” (Fr. Adonis Narcelles, SVD Bible Diary 2009)


See Today’s Readings:  Year I,   Year II

Back to: Friday of the 6th Week of the Year

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