TAKE UP YOUR CROSS
In poetic language, the prophet Nahum announces the fall of the city of Nineveh with its cruel oppression of the nations of the region. For God is the master of history. This is good news to the people of Judah.
In the Gospel, Jesus presents the Christian life by means of three equivalent expressions. It means: to renounce oneself – that is, to accept God’s way of thinking and acting rather than one’s own; to take up the cross – that is, to take the risk of undergoing the fate of the Master and give up personal security; and to follow Jesus – that is, to accept the guidance of Jesus, his Gospel, not only in theory but also in practice. Are we ready to do this? Is this what the Christian life means for us?
Lord, our God,
we know that following your Son means
to let someone else lead us,
where we perhaps were not intending to go.
But it is your Son who leads us and goes with us.
And so, we say: We are willing to go with him,
but help us Lord, when our hearts grow faint,
that we may keep going with him
who is our Lord for ever. Amen!
1 Reading: NAHUM 2:1, 3; 3:1-3, 6-7
See, upon the mountains there advances the bearer of good news, announcing peace! Celebrate your feasts, O Judah, fulfill your vows! For nevermore shall you be invaded by the scoundrel; he is completely destroyed. The LORD will restore the vine of Jacob, the pride of Israel, though ravagers have ravaged them and ruined the tendrils. Woe to the bloody city, all lies, full of plunder, whose looting never stops! The crack of the whip, the rumbling sounds of wheels; horses a-gallop, chariots bounding, Cavalry charging, the flame of the sword, the flash of the spear, the many slain, the heaping corpses, the endless bodies to stumble upon! I will cast filth upon you, disgrace you and put you to shame; Till everyone who sees you runs from you, saying, “Nineveh is destroyed; who can pity her? Where can one find any to console her?”
Responsorial Psalm Deuteronomy 32:35cd-36ab, 39abcd, 41
R. (39c) It is I who deal death and give life.
Close at hand is the day of their disaster,
and their doom is rushing upon them!
Surely, the LORD shall do justice for his people;
on his servants he shall have pity. R.
“Learn then that I, I alone, am God,
and there is no god besides me.
It is I who bring both death and life,
I who inflict wounds and heal them.” R.
I will sharpen my flashing sword,
and my hand shall lay hold of my quiver,
“With vengeance I will repay my foes
and requite those who hate me.” R.
Alleluia MATTHEW 5:10
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness;
for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel MATTHEW 16:24-28
Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? Or what can one give in exchange for his life? For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father’s glory, and then he will repay each according to his conduct. Amen, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his Kingdom.”
– Lord Jesus, for those who follow you on the way to the cross as they are persecuted for believing in you, we pray:
– Lord Jesus, for those who follow you on the way of the cross as they make self-renunciation to dedicate themselves to take care of lonely and sick people, we pray:
– Lord Jesus, for those who bear their sufferings in patience with you, we pray:
Prayer over the Gifts
Bread and wine,
Lord our God,
are our strength and joy on the road of life.
Let your Son break for us the better bread
and pour for us the better wine of himself,
that keep us going, and when needed,
even climbing the mountain of suffering
and of apparent defeat.
For we trust in Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen!
Prayer after Communion
Lord our God,
you know how much we are afraid
of taking risks and committing ourselves
to the new and the unknown.
But you beckon us through your Son
and you let him be our strength.
And so, we pray you:
Keep calling us out of our enclosures
and give us the courage to go all the way
to you and to one another
without fear or compromise.
Let the Gospel of Jesus
become good news of happiness and joy
to fill our lives, for ever and ever. Amen!
“Take up your cross and follow me.” We must take up the cross demanded by faithfulness to the Gospel, our Christian community, our family, our task in life, with the blessing of Almighty God, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!