St. Peter Damian
Mk 8: 34 – 9: 1
He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? Indeed, what can they give in return for their life?
Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” And he said to them, “Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see that the kingdom of God has come with power.”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations
Freedom to Love
Mark today outlines the cost of discipleship, pointing to the fundamental end of the Christian spiritual life: freedom. The great Saints of our tradition show us this. From Francis to Tekakwitha, Ignatius to Kolbe, we learn that the Christian path is a struggle for freedom: freedom from that which keeps me away from Christ’s love, and freedom for a full reception of this very same love.
The challenge presented in today’s reading is not in its novelty, for surely this is one of the most familiar in all of scripture. These lines are cited popularly in heroic conversion moments, Francis rejecting the world’s riches or Ignatius turning away from vainglory. And yet, the deeper challenge is as often claiming my conversion each day, as important as those seminal moments are. Conversion away from sin towards love that frees is a lifelong process, not simply a once for all moment.
Francis and Ignatius surely sinned after they dropped their riches or swords. And so do we. We take up our cross each day. Praying with the inspiration of Mark to name that which binds me today, and that I need God’s grace to be free from. I beg God’s assistance. Make haste to help me, O Lord!
—Matthew Couture is the assistant for secondary and pre-secondary education for the Chicago-Detroit and Wisconsin Jesuits. Matt and his wife Bridget live in Chicago and have two children.
Give me only your love and your grace. With these I am rich enough and need nothing more.
—St. Ignatius Loyola