Fr. Joseph Nguyen, O.P.
Jesus said to his disciples: “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wihes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”
Having to bear the cross is never easy, but having to give up what we cherish, we love is even more difficult. And the most difficult of all is to renounce ourselves, to give up our selfishness, our prejudice, our point of view, our opinion.
Experience shows that whoever indulges himself in excessive pleasure and enjoyment of any kind will neither improve his health nor prolong his life, but will end up in poor health, diseases and even losing his life altogether. Those who are addicted to heroin, marijuana, alcohol; those who eat and drink too much; those who blindly go after money and material goods; those who abuse their power for personal gain often meet tragic ending either in hospital, in prison, or at the execution wall.
On August 29, 2002 a Vietnamese woman from
was arrested at TSN airport for drug trafficking.
She told investigators that if she succeeded, she would be awarded $30,000.
Unfortunately, she never got the money, nor was she able to go back to her
family in Australia ,
because she was given a death sentence afterward. So the warning of Christ
still holds ”Whoever would save his life will lose it!” This woman wanted to have some extra illegal
money, perhaps, to improve her life and support her family. She did not get the
money she wanted, instead she lost her family and her life altogether. Australia
On the contrary, those who give up everything for the sake of Christ; those who are willing to share with others; those who render their lives in the service of the poor, the handicapped, the abandoned will have a life of peace and happiness now in this world, and will be long remembered and honored by God and men later on.
Msgr Cassaigne, former bishop of
in 1955 and, with permission of the Holy See, he became chaplain of Di Linh
leprosarium near Dalat. He also contracted leprosy and died of the disease. A
few days before his death, the former government of presented him the highest
medal of honor. Vietnam
Maximilian Kolbe, a Polish Franciscan priest, died in place of another prisoner at
Auschwitz concentration camp on August 14, 1941 during
World War Two. Now he is honored as the latest martyr of the modern world. These people gave up
everything for the sake of Christ; they renounced everything for the service of
others; in fact they lost everything in this world, but they have obtained what
they longed for: eternal glory and salvation.
Even Christ himself could not save the world without the taste of suffering and death. Only through his death on the cross was he able to bring us salvation and everlasting happiness. In order to secure our salvation, we should follow the steps of Christ to renounce ourselves and take up our cross and follow Him. If we deny the cross, the cross will still be there and become a burden unbearable to us. In contrast, if we accept the cross, the cross will become our source of joy and consolation. This is the paradox of the cross, but the only way to heaven and to salvation.