The Conditions of Discipleship

Manila Bulletin, February 16, 2007 | Go to article overview

The Conditions of Discipleship


Mark 8:34-9:1

JESUS summoned the crowd with His disciples and said to them, "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 and that of the gospel will save it. What profit is there for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? What could one give in exchange for his life? Whoever is ashamed of Me and of My words in this faithless and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of when He comes in His Father's glory with the holy angels."

He also said to them, "Amen, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see that the kingdom of God has come in power."

The WORD

Today's gospel reading contains a saying of Jesus which belongs to the so-called "hard sayings:" The necessity of carrying one's cross. It is easy to misunderstand what Jesus is saying here and to see in it some form of disguised masochism, that is, a sick delight in suffering. Fortunately, many thoughtful Christians have reflected on suffering and have understood well what Jesus is telling us. One of these thinkers is theologian Charles Cummings. This is what he writes in his book The Mystery of the Ordinary:

"Suffering in itself is not good, but can be turned to good use. …

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