Not To Rely On Oneself
Pope Francis speaks of us as ‘missionary disciples.’
In Joy of the Gospel, he proclaims:
The joy of the gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. Those who accept his offer of salvation are set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness and loneliness. With Christ joy is constantly born anew.
Our encounter with Jesus fills us with joy. It is a continual encounter, a daily encounter. It is this consequent joy that has its influence on others.
Matthew 16 outlines a three step process to becoming a missionary disciple. At first sight, it is quite unattractive:
If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me.
Why would I want to deny myself, carry a cross unto death and lose my freedom?
St. Augustine (354-430) asks:
What does it mean to deny oneself?
It means not to rely on oneself.
This makes perfect sense.
Why would Christ Jesus call us and then expect us to follow him on our own strength? To deny myself means to rely not on myself, but on God.
And the cross and my loss of freedom?
The Cross of Jesus is full of love. He died with so much love on the Cross that the resurrection was three quarters complete. The ‘language’ of the Cross is not suffering, but love given unto the other.
Furthermore, following Jesus is freedom. He is the truth and the truth sets us free. To follow him is the adventure of a life-time.