Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself,
take up his cross, and follow me.
My Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
With the pandemic still at large, I pray that you can better understand Jesus’s words from St. Matthew Chapter 16. Jesus begins to prepare his disciples for His coming death. Jesus wants them to know about what following Him involves, what true discipleship means for their daily living. Jesus’ words ring true today as we humbly deny ourselves so that others might live.
How do Jesus’ words fill our soul? Our litany, our call to God ̶ the sacrifice of caring for each other in ways we have never known or participated; the difficulty of unemployment; the painful separation from loved ones who are in residential facilities; the uncertainty of knowing what is next . . . in our own ways, we take up His Cross and follow Him.
This is the condition of discipleship – to deny ourselves and follow Christ. We are not to fear suffering in living out our discipleship. We must endure hardships so that our faith remains alive. We are experiencing this type of hardship with the closing of our churches as we come to participate in spiritual communion. We know that the boundaries of our earthly world, such as social distancing and wearing masks, can never keep us from Christ or bringing Christ to others. Losing our lives is more tragic than the physical death of a person(s). Losing Christ within our world because of our self-aggrandizement is the most painful death.
Recently our Superintendent of Schools, Mr. Henry Fortier, said that during the pandemic we never missed the opportunity to bring Christ to our homes through our educational platforms. As we begin the new school year, we are again reminded of our baptismal call to carry forth the mission of Christ. We are reminded that nothing can keep us from Him except ourselves. True discipleship is a participation in the covenant with God. We are committed to the kingdom for which Jesus lived and died—this kingdom of God entrusted to His people – to you and me.
Within this heavenly kingdom, no one is excluded from God’s heart. We hope to live so that our heart goes beyond human boundaries that we see each other as a precious treasure and the meaning of life is found only in giving this treasure to each other. We are called to be open to the joyful newness of the Gospel. Pope Francis said, “Christians must be missionary disciples who share the Gospel with humility and respect.” “Christ is our peace,” the Holy Father said, “and in him every division is overcome; in him alone there is salvation for every person and all people.”
Let us rejoice in the treasure of each other and our service to God. I pray with gratitude for each one of you and especially pray that this school year will be holy and pleasing to God. We pray for our faculty, staff, students and their families that through our discipleship they may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.
By our living may we never be afraid to deny ourselves and pick up the Cross. May our resounding YES to follow Jesus be known across the land.