Our life consists of numbers. Today is October 3, 2021, tomorrow will be October 4. Every day we take a certain number of steps, whether on the way to work, or walking in the park, or playing sports.
Modern smartphones even have a special application that shows us the number of steps taken per day, per month, even per year. The World Health Organization recommends that we take 10,000 steps every day to feel better. How many steps do we need to take to be close to Christ? Today’s Gospel shows us a very simple way to follow Christ: “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” As you have noted, this proposal consists of only three steps, which we will now try to consider.
“When someone wants to follow Me.” Before we can do anything in our lives, we must discover the desire we must want. And this is a very important step before every lesson we want to start. If we want, we will do incredible things to achieve our goal. Instead, reluctantly, we are doomed to failure. So, a true Christian is the one who not only has desires and wishes to do this, but he tries hard to put it into his life every day.
Step 1 “Renounce yourself.” What does it mean to renounce yourself? Does this mean that I am obliged to deny myself all earthly pleasures? Does this mean leaving the world and going to a monastery? Does that mean rejecting your identity? Is it possible that this means simply quenching your certain desires? To renounce oneself means to reject one’s “ego” and one’s self, and moreover, to focus all one’s gaze not on oneself but on God. I think that each of us has more than once noticed such an interesting thing how often people emphasize on themselves: “I want!… I like it!… I desire it!… I think!…”. One big Self. We must renounce ourselves so that Jesus can live in me.
Step 2 “Take up your cross.” Very often people perceive this step as a punishment. However, taking up your cross means accepting all the challenges in life without any complaint. This may be a mother who, for the sake of a small child, endures certain inconveniences and denies herself many things for the sake of the child. It can be a man who perceives his wife as she is, despite all the difficulties and trials in married life. This can be a sick person who without complaint accepts a disease that he endures in this period of his life. We take up our cross consciously, with joy and optimism, knowing that temporary difficulties and renunciations are worthy of the lofty goal before us: “For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light!” (Mt. 11:30).
Step 3 “Follow Christ.” In the Gospel of John 14 we read: “I am the way, the truth and the life.” When Jesus called his first disciples, who were simple fishermen, they immediately left their jobs and followed Him. For us, this story is a shining example of how to follow Jesus. When God calls you to follow Him, nothing is more important than your relationship with Him. So, to truly follow Christ is to put Him first in your life. May the Almighty Lord help us in this endeavour with the implementation of the 3 steps to follow Jesus.
Mykola Bychok, CSsR
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