This week, Jesus reminds us again that “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.” (Mk 8:34-35).
The story of St. Thomas More is an epitome of one who loses his life for the gospel. Thomas more was the Chancellor of England and held a distinguished position as head of the judiciary. When King Henry VIII wanted to annul his marriage to Katherine of Aragon (his first wife) and marry Anne Boleyn, Thomas More stepped down from his position as a refusal to endorse the marriage. He was then committed to the Tower of London and ultimately convicted and beheaded. His last words were, “The King’s good servant, but God’s first.” Pope Pius XI canonized St Thomas More in 1935.
If we are followers of Christ, then the cross is not an option but a way of life. St. Thomas More stood up for what he believed- he believed in Christ and he believed in the gospel. He lost his position, wealth, honour and everything worldly but saved his soul.
In a world, that puts emphasis on wealth, power, pleasure and honour, the world attaches value to what is triumphant without the cross. In 2001, Pope John Paul II explained that in our culture that is so fleeting, the way of life is to attach value to what is pleasing and beautiful- a way of life that omits the cross in order to be happy. The cross is not a decorative item but rather ‘a sign of love and of total self- giving’.
“To carry it behind Christ means to be united with him in offering the greatest proof of love.”Pope John Paul II
“Give up your self, and you will find your real self. Lose your life and you will save it. Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. But look for Christ and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in.” C.S. Lewis (Mere Christianity)
The world ridicules the cross but is it the cross that sets us free, fills our hearts with joy and peace. If we are to be the follower of Christ then our lives and our choices should reflect love for God and our neighbour. – SR