Some time ago, life, for most people, was not as comfortable as it is today. The World did not have as much to offer as it does today. There was no Internet; there were no airplanes to travel around the world and discover new places, there were no iPods, pads, smartphones. We could then agree that, for people at other times, it made sense to live a life totally dedicated to the Lord. But the world today offers so much. Gratification now days can be almost instant. The world is there at our feet. Why then do we have to give up all those things for the sake of Christ? What is the reason? What does it make it so special?
The Lord tells each one of us to follow Him. And He is very clear. He says follow me! What does this mean? It means we must serve the Lord (New International Bible, John 12.26). We must become his disciples. He is telling us, as he did to so many other men in the Gospel, to follow him. To some he asked to leave father and mother (Luke 14.26), to others he asked to sell everything and give to the poor (Luke 18.22). But to all he said, pick up your cross and follow me (Luke 14.27). This is a condition to be a disciple of Christ: to pick up your cross. He says we must pick it up. It is our choice to pick it up; it is not placed in our backs, we are free to be his disciples, we are free to pick up our cross and embrace it!
Not everyone has to sell all belongings and follow Him. However, he is indeed clearly saying, “Whoever wants to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for me will save it” (Matthew 16.25). Ultimately what the Lord is telling us is that nothing in the whole world, not even our own life should be above Him. If we do not place all things even our own life to the service of the Lord we will not find happiness, we will not have eternal life.
No matter how many cars we have, how big our house can be, how much money we can accumulate in the bank. It does not matter if we have the latest fashion clothes, or if we are fit, slim and beautiful, it does not matter how much power, or how popular we are amongst our peers. Nothing matters if we do not have the Lord as king of our lives and our hearts. He should be the center of our lives; we must do all things with the intention of pleasing him, for him we must do all things, from the very little to the greatest. This is how we will be truly happy. Because those who love, are happy when they can make happy the person whom they love.
Jesus is Life. If we believe in him we shall not die (John 11.25). We are constantly looking for life through all the things we do and buy; we try to eat healthy so we can live longer, we want live through the new experiences we seek, new places we visit, new adventures, sex, music, and art; some things better than others, but still all are nothing compared to the Lord. How can we compare the finite with the infinite? We put so much effort in losing weight, in eating healthy, in saving money for expensive things. Still only Jesus can promise us life, eternal life. Where do we find him? We can meet him every day and receive his graces simply by praying and reading the Bible.
Those who already found the beauty and sweetness in the Scripture know what I am talking about. Those who encountered the Lord, those who have a relationship with Him understand my words. It is like falling in love In love with the best person ever! The sweet voice of the Lord can be heard all over through Scripture. Those who have ears can hear his voice (Matthew 13.16) and the Lord will bless them.
Let us seek the Lord. Let us want to hear his sweet voice! The apostles spent days after days with the Lord. They got to know him, his voice, his teachings, his smiles and his silences. Once the Lord saw that they were ready, that they had his Love in their heart, and that they were willing to give their lives for him, and the Gospel, then and only then, he sent them as disciples to the whole world to spread the Good News. Some gave their life for Christ, some did not. But all were willing to. All of them placed Him above all things, and all carried their cross to be his disciples.
We must also get to know him. We must frequent the Scripture. We must look for him; we must hear his voice, get to know him, love him and hold tight to him. We will find the strength to pick up our cross and follow him, and become a disciple spreading his message.
If we found life we must show it to the world.” Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand and it gives light to everyone in the house” (Matthew 5.15).
What is the meaning of our life even if we have cars, holidays, houses, many riches, beautiful clothes and parties and all the things the world can offer us if we do not have the Lord in our hearts, furthermore, if we lose our soul? (Mark 8.36).
Let us be courageous. Let us stand firm and live in such a way like true apostles who carry their cross with the joy of those who found Life (Revelation 21.6).
Let us bring the message of the Gospel to our neighbors, to our friends and our colleagues. Let us lift up the lamp and lighten up around us, in our local communities, in our families, our friends. We must be disciples of the Lord in the world, where we are. And so, let us live as daughters and sons of God. We already won heaven through him. If we have that joy in us, others will want to have it as well.
We must be confident that it is by embracing our Crosses, our difficulties and pains, that we are true Disciples of Christ. Let us be joyful particularly in those moments, setting our hearts on the Lord, carrying close to our hearts the promise of the Lord: "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him" (Corinthians 2.9).