Do you want to be my follower? (Mt 16:21-27)

2nd September 2017

“If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself.” (Mt 16:24)

Jesus told his disciples that in Jerusalem he would be put to death by the elders and scribes but that he would be raised up again on the third day (cf. Mt 16:21). We are told in the Gospel that Peter took Jesus aside and started to remonstrate with him, which means that Peter was opposing strongly and protesting to Jesus: “Heaven preserve you, Lord; this must not happen to you.” But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle in my path, because the way you think is not God’s way but man’s.” (Mt 16:22-23)

Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me, for anyone who wants to save his life will lose it, but anyone who loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Mt 16:24-25)

Peter was scared and did not fully understand the situation, and so he tried to manipulate Jesus into his way of thinking, and therefore was not listening or living in the will of the Father, but was following his own will. This is something that each of us does. Like Peter we often want to do the will of God in our life but so often when situations do not go our way or we become confused or impatient with God, we then end up living out of our own will and not God’s.

Jesus could see through Peter, which is why he said to him, “Get behind me Satan”, because Jesus knew that Peter was not open at that moment: Peter was acting out of selfish motivations.

Like the disciples, Jesus calls each one of us to renounce ourselves and take up our daily cross, and follow him. John the Baptist reminds all of us that we must decrease, and that Jesus must increase in our own life (cf. Jn 3:30) – until we disappear and the love of the Lord is all that remains within us.

Let us ask for the grace each day to pick up and carry our cross, just like Jesus did for all of us. He did it out of obedience to the Father, but most of all Jesus did it out of love for each one us. He actually laid down his own life as a loving and self-emptying sacrifice. Jesus said “anyone who wants to save his life will lose it; but anyone who loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Mt 16:25)

Therefore Jesus calls each one of us to give our own life out of love for him and for each other, as a loving sacrifice in for the other, so that we are no longer selfish but people who long and desire to follow our loving God, who helps us to carry our own cross despite the fact that we may neither know it, acknowledge it, or ever give him thanks for it. For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of his Father with his angels, and when he does, he will reward each one according to his behaviour. (cf. Mt 16:27)

Let us ask Jesus for the grace to always listen and do his will in our life and not be an obstacle; but to help us to lose our life for him so that we will find it, and to carry our cross with love and joy. For like Jesus said: “What then, will a man gain if he wins the whole world and ruins his life?” (Mt 16:26)