June 19, Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Cycle C. Readings:
1) Zechariah 12:10-11; 13:1
Psalm 63:2-6, 8-9
2) Galatians 3:26-29
Gospel: Luke 9:18-24
By Jean Denton
Catholic News Service
In today’s Gospel, Jesus’ disciples acknowledge him as “the Christ of God,” the promised Messiah who will save the world.
He proceeds to tell them how this will happen: through his suffering, death and resurrection. Then he adds that whoever “wishes to come after me” would have to give up his former way of life and take on Jesus’ way, including the suffering that goes along with it.
No doubt if there had been a Galilean word for “yikes!” the disciples would have uttered it at that point. It’s one thing to know and accept who Jesus is. The harder part comes in facing what that means in one’s relationship with him and in choosing to spend one’s life following him.
As a catechist, I often sensed this struggle in teenagers preparing for confirmation. The young people came with a wide range of faith formation prior to entering the program. Some had attended parish formation classes since they were in kindergarten; others had received rigorous religious education in Catholic school; and still others had only minimal catechesis since receiving their first Communion as second-graders.
Each year, as the class progressed, I saw nearly all of the young people grow to an understanding and acceptance of who Jesus is. But not all seemed certain about their desire to be confirmed in the church.
Interestingly, the individuals most conflicted were those who had a personal, spiritual relationship with Jesus. Invariably, as the day for the sacrament approached, those young people would tell me, “I don’t think I’m ready.”
They didn’t take this step lightly. For them, coming into full participation in the church was a serious moment of truth. It meant making the decision to actively follow Jesus as a disciple with all the complications that entails.
Most of these conscientious ones chose to be confirmed. But a few decided to wait until they felt sure they could hold up their end of the bargain.
I’ve never worried for their souls. It was obvious they had a deep faith in Jesus as their guide and savior. Besides, the fact that they were stressing over whether they could serve him well enough revealed they already had taken up their crosses.
What makes the difference for you between knowing who Jesus is and taking up your cross to follow him?