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Follow me… and suffer!



Fr. Rolando V. Dela Rosa, O.P.Fr. Rolando V. Dela Rosa, O.P.

Fr. Rolando V. Dela Rosa, O.P.

Job advertisements normally include the required qualifications of applicants and the proposed remuneration.Butin today’s gospel, when Jesus offered a jobto His disciples, He advertised it by saying bluntly: “Whoever does not take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of me” (Mt. 10:38). It’s like saying, “If you join me, prepare to suffer!”

This is perhaps why many people consider Christianity as a masochistic religion. They see Christians as losers who rejoice when they are poor and sick, addicted to fasting, abstinence and other forms of self-denial, paranoid about sex, tortured by toxic guilt and low self-esteem,and who believe they get bonus points when they are victimized, abused, or treated like doormats.

True, there are Christians who give Christianity a bad name by living as if they deserve hell by default. So theyseek suffering, hoping that if God sees their sorry plight, He will grant them eternal happiness. Their practice of religion is based on a morbid view that we have to experience hell on earth to get to heaven.

Being a Christian entails suffering, but it is NOT masochistic. The masochist derives a wicked delight from suffering because he hopes that this will earn him another person’s admiration and love. It is a form of malignant self-love masquerading as self-denial.

Jesus was not looking for masochists when He recruited His first disciples. He was quite honest when He presented to them the nature of the job he wanted them to do. He did not whitewash or accessorize it. Discipleship is the “imitation of Christ.” And since Jesus Himself chose suffering as the way to redeem us, a disciple of Jesus imitates Him by his willingness to suffer anything for His sake. It’s like saying:”He has gone ahead; I shall follow and hold fast to Him no matter what it takes.”

To further clarify the words “Take up your cross,” the word “cross” does not necessarily meansickness, accident, failure, disasters, or calamity that happens to us as a result of some misfortune or harsh fate. The cross that we have to bear is not random suffering caused by an imperfect world or our frail human nature. Rather, it is suffering that necessarily follows when we take seriously our identity asChristians, and when we protect, defend, and uphold our Christian faith.

Some years ago, an Irish singer who is Catholic,tore a picture of Pope John Paul II on Saturday Night Live. Sadly, Catholics as well asmedia people and celebrities who considered themselves Christians hardly raised a sneer against such an act of irreverence. In contrast, when a newspaper in Denmark published cartoons satirizing the prophet Muhammad, Muslims everywhere raised howls of protest and public indignation.

One Muslim wrote: “We can understand satire on customs and behavior, but not about the Quran, Allah and the Prophet. Shouldn’t we consider religious symbols on an equal level with the symbols of secular institutions?” Indeed, if we feel deeply insulted when foreigners trample our flag, should we not be angry when people who are self-confessed Catholics blatantly insult, scorn, or destroy our most cherished Christian symbols and icons of devotion?

Millions of Christians living in non-Christian countries bravely live and defend their faith even if it means great suffering. They bear their cross willingly even at the risk of persecution or death. In contrast, there are also millions of Christians who regard their faith as a private possession, like an amulet that gives them what they want when they need it, or like a dress that they discard when it is no longer fashionable. They have privatized Christianity and areunwilling to bear the cross of defending or spreading it.

The question is, in which group do we belong?”

=”https://news.mb.com.ph//fr-rolando-v-dela-rosa/” rel=””>Fr. Rolando V. Dela Rosa, =”https://news.mb.com.ph//o-p/” rel=””>O.P.

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