“If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself.”

The short passage from Luke (9:22-25) starts with Jesus predicting to His disciples His trial, passion and death.  He turns to the larger crowd and, beginning with the words above, speaks of denial, suffering, and even loss of life that comes with being a follower of Him.  This is a wonderful passage for the beginning of the Lenten season.  We often think about what we will give up for Lent.  A bit of denial (along with taking on additional good works — this should not be an either/or) is a valuable reminder to us that being a true disciple of Jesus involves setting aside what keeps us from God, accepting crosses along with Christ, and even death — maybe not a red martyrdom but at least a white martyrdom.  Avoid or fight temptation, deny sin, accept physical and mental pain and unite it with Christ’s Passion, die to oneself in order to live well for God.  And when all these things come our way because we uphold the Faith, so much greater should we exalt God for allowing it (remember the apostles in Acts 5:41).  Why should the servant be different from the Master (and certainly not better — see Jn 13:16)?  Jesus set the pattern we are to follow.  Imitate Christ unhesitatingly.

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