To Wish for Kenosis
05 August 2022, Friday of the 18th Week in the Ordinary Time
Optional Memorial of the Dedication of the Basilica of St Mary Major
Commemoration of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus
Mt 16: 24-28
Children like to wish. They wish for good things to happen. The song When You Wish Upon A Star conveys a fairytale style of wishing in this fashion, “When you wish upon a star makes no difference who you are. Anything your heart desires will come to you.” But in the Gospel of today, those who desire to follow Jesus won’t get something like a childhood wish. Jesus said, “If you want to become my followers let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”
Jesus’ words do not sound that He’s calling for admirers to like Him. Jesus bluntly calls courageous men and women who can take up the demands of the Gospel. Indeed, Jesus never calls admirers but followers who walk with Him through the way of the cross. Today’s Gospel is a continuation of yesterday’s Gospel reading. Jesus’ identity as messiah is not driven by power, possession and prestige but that of self-emptying. The way of the cross purifies our desire of following the Lord. It clarifies our motivations. The way of the cross, as manifested by Jesus’ selfless love, shakes all our good intentions in order to lead us to a conviction and a commitment that are not driven by the ego but by a day-to-day decision of letting go, and letting God be God.
Following Jesus along the way of the cross is an extra challenge. Why? I don’t think Vocation Promoters might think of copying Jesus’ threefold challenge of self-denial, of taking up the cross and of following the Lord. They don’t appeal to many of us who take delight in pleasure, in power, in possessions and in prestige. But Benedict XVI challenges this mentality with these words, “The world offers you comfort. But you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness.” If we want to give glory to God, the way of the cross is the route that we will take.
Do we have to pray to God to grant us many crosses? We do not have to ask for in fact we are bearing them? Our crosses might be in different forms. It can be in a form of a struggling relationship with someone in the family, a financial crisis, dealing with some problematic persons whom we consider as obstacles in our chosen career or vocational path, being a subject of calumny for trying to correct someone or something, being silenced by our bosses and even by our friends for situations that call for a prophetic stance, when we experience rejection and even hate (cancel culture) for we cannot compromise the truth with lies, our poverty in many forms (intellectual, moral, spiritual, cultural, etc.), the calamities that we experience, either man-made or caused by nature and so on and so forth.
Such crosses can overwhelm us but those who follow the Lord, even if they have less, are more. Why? The mystery of the cross opens our minds and our hearts to trust all the more in the Lord. Jesus never promised us an easy life. What He promised, from which we can draw strength and consolation, is that He is always with us until, no matter what.
Today we remember the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. When we look at the heart of Jesus, we are led to discover the truth that when we love, we will experience pain. God loves us in Jesus. How painful it is to be selfless by giving to us His Son who gave His life and death for us all for love! If Christianity is a religion for wishers, for dreamers and for admirers, let us be reminded the Jesus’ Sacred Heart tells us that God never treats us as spoiled brats. For if we truly, madly and really love the Lord, we take the road that is less travelled by many; the way of the cross. In this way, we beg the Lord to be “less of me” so that we can be more for and in God. Amen.
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