February 16-17: God’s Grace, Our Perseverance

“You must accept your cross; if you bear it courageously, it will carry you to Heaven.” – St. John Vianney

Jesus says in Mark 8, 34 through 9, 1: “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.” The season of Lent doesn’t start until next week, but this seems like a very “Lenten” notion. We know, however, that it is not a notion reserved exclusively to the Forty Days of prayer and sacrifice.

So, what does it mean to sacrifice, to deny oneself in an ongoing way? It means taking a selfless approach to things, surrendering to Jesus – He leads and we follow! This is the sort of approach to discipleship which goes way beyond a set amount of time, like Lent.

“Take up your cross” could literally mean carrying heavy burdens, but it also involves giving witness to our faith in so many practical ways, like eagerly forgiving another, bearing with another’s shortcomings, and being patient in all circumstances. It also means turning away from all selfishness, trusting in God’s goodness, and praying that we might always be faithful to the path the Lord sets before us.

Let us pray, at the very least, that any challenges that prevent us from fully denying ourselves, taking up our cross, and following Jesus (whether during Lent or not) will be overcome – by His grace and our perseverance.

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