Friday, August 7, 2015

Do you see difficulties, problems and crosses as something to get rid of, or as means to follow Christ more closely? - Daily Reflections August 7,2015

We hear more and more preachers proclaim the so-called “prosperity gospel.” One gets the impression that wealth, a lot of money, and a fat bank account are signs that God loves us and favors us. Two questions pop up: Does it mean that the poor in the slums are not loved by God? And did Jesus teach this?
       Take a look at the life and teachings of Jesus. We get the impression that He praised as blessed not the rich but those who have nothing. Just read the Beatitudes.
       Contrary to the prosperity gospel, Jesus often stressed that a real disciple must deny himself. To deny oneself means, in every moment of life, to say “no” to self and “yes” to God. That means one must take up the burden of sacrifice — a life of sacrificial service.
      Contrary to the prosperity gospel, Jesus and Pope Francis emphasize the cross. In his first homily as Pope, he said, “When we journey without the cross, when we build without the cross, and when we confess a Christ without the cross, we are not disciples of the Lord: we are worldly…”
       Next, Jesus says that we must follow Him. Christian life is a constant following of our leader, a constant obedience in thought, word and action to Jesus. We are to walk in the footsteps of Christ, wherever He may lead us. It is a fact that if we live in constant search for safety, security, ease and comfort, we we will lose all that makes life worthwhile. Life then becomes unsatisfying when it could have been an adventure.
       All this sounds difficult and depressing. But what Jesus is telling us today is that happiness is a natural result of a life of selfless service in imitation of Himself. Happiness is not just feeling good. Such feeling disappears only too soon. Real happiness is living for others, as Jesus lived and died for us by taking up the cross. And He invites us to follow Him, live like Him, and so find a happiness the world cannot give. Fr. Rudy Horst, SVD
REFLECTION QUESTION: Do you see difficulties, problems and crosses as something to get rid of, or as means to follow Christ more closely?
Lord, the prosperity gospel sounds more attractive than Yours. And yet, Lord, You make me aware that following You, even on the way of the cross, is the only way to heaven.

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