“Renunciation” is a difficult word to swallow, especially when we hear Jesus exhorting each of us to renounce ourselves as a requirement for discipleship.[1]

Then we are told that we also are to “take up (our) cross” just as He did. This can sound like a “tall order” but where love is our motive and our goal we can embrace the cross. “The desire to embrace the Father’s plan of redeeming love inspired Jesus’ whole life…”[2] and so we are invited to have this same focus, intent on doing the Father’s will.

St. Augustine of Hippo gives us some encouragement. “Our Lord’s command seems hard and heavy, that anyone who wants to follow him must renounce himself. But no command is hard and heavy when it comes from one who helps to carry it out… Why be surprised if people who set their hearts on Christ and want to follow him renounce themselves out of love? If we lose ourselves through self-love we must surely find ourselves through self-renunciation.

Who would not wish to follow Christ to supreme happiness, perfect peace, and lasting security? We shall do well to follow him there, but we need to know the way.

The Lord Jesus had not yet risen from the dead when he gave this invitation. His passion was still before him; he had still to endure the cross, to face outrages, reproaches, scourging; to be pierced by thorns, wounded, insulted, taunted, and put to death.

The road seems rough, you draw back, you do not want to follow Christ. Follow him just the same. The road we made for ourselves is rough, but Christ has levelled it by passing over it himself.”[3]

I know Who I want to follow. I know which Way I want to go – do you?

Sr. Rosaleen Shaw OP

[1] Cf. Mat. 16:24-26

[2] Catechism of the Catholic Church #607

[3] Sermon 96, 1-4: PL 38, 584-586

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