September 3, 2023
FOCUS: Take up [your] cross, and follow me.
Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he would have to suffer, die, and be raised on the third day. The disciples did not immediately understand, but we know that those who wish to follow Jesus into eternal life must take up their cross as well. For whoever loses their life for Jesus' sake will find it.
What's in Your Heart
The demands of discipleship are much on display in this week’s readings. Jeremiah felt caught between his call and its cost. Saint Paul told the Romans that new life in Christ would require presenting their bodies as a living sacrifice. And Saint Peter cannot abide by the idea that both Jesus would have to suffer and die and that the disciples would have to follow in his footsteps.
When have you felt conflicted about your ministry or felt you got more than you had bargained for? What did you do to reaffirm your vocation?
Have you said the same thing as Saint Peter, “God forbid it, Lord. This must never happen to you”—in other words, have you ever pulled back from the sacrifices of following Jesus?
Traveling to our familial home in Southern Italy with my mother, brothers, and their families was a learning experience for me. A Roman collar there came with many perks. No need to go to the laundromat like my brothers—that was nice. The hotel room with the air-conditioner was set aside for me. (I insisted it be given to Mom). I enjoyed the attention. But everything went south the last night.
The family wanted to go to a local disco. Surprisingly Mom approved, saying she and I would join them there later, after “a few things” she needed to do with me. First, I was taken to bless an aunt not knowing she was the town enemy. A crowd gathered. We left, her blessed and me unscathed. Then we went to the family farm where I blessed the potato crop and fig trees for my beaming uncle and everyone gathered there. We toasted it with olive oil. Then the pastor was waiting for us at the rectory and hugged me as I presented a check to the church in memory of my father. No crowd. But lots of tears and some wine, finally. Mom kept saying there was “only one more stop” after each one. The real last visit was to the mayor’s home, a communist, to hear his confession, most of which I couldn’t understand. He cried and Mom smiled. We were done, but too late for the disco. I didn’t miss it. I didn’t feel duped. I was blessed.
Father Dominic Grassi
Being friends . . . love, these open the prison by supreme power, by some magic force. Where sympathy is renewed, life is restored.
—Vincent van Gogh
There can only be two basic loves . . . the love of God unto the forgetfulness of self, or the love of self unto the forgetfulness and denial of God.
—Saint Augustine of Hippo
He who is too much afraid of being duped has lost the power of being magnanimous.
—Henri Frederick Amiel