Yesterday we witnessed Simon the Fisherman giving his confession: Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God. In giving his confession he offered his life by offering his heart, and Jesus gave him a new name and a new identity: Peter, the Rock of the Church. We are all called to give ourselves to Jesus, as He gives Himself to us upon the Cross, as He gives Himself daily in the Eucharist. How do we go about doing that?
By doing as He did: by taking up the Cross.
All this week we have reflected on this mutual exchange, of how Jesus desires us to give not only what we have, but who we are, for all that we have did not merely come into our possession by our own power, but by the generosity of God. This is why we ought not to hoard our worldly wealth, ought not fear our being left without what we truly need, or fear the storms of struggle that might rise about us. Neither should we fear coming to Him for any need whatsoever, but rather believe in Him, as did the Caananite woman, as did Peter.
When Jesus tells us to deny ourselves and take up our cross, to lose our life for His sake and thus find it, He is inviting us to go against our tendency to live for ourselves and to live, instead, for Him. In denying ourselves and affirming Christ we create a space in our hearts for Him to dwell fully, to animate us with His Spirit, to fashion us into another “Christ” for the world. When we live not for ourselves but for Him we “lose” our life and God gives us another: His own. This is the treasure in the field, or the pearl of great price (Matt. 13:44-46), for which we give everything we have to gain the most precious gift of everlasting life, the life that Jesus offers us by giving His own life for our sake.
You might think, “What good am I? I’m worthless; God doesn’t want me.” Look, then, upon the Cross that Jesus took up when He denied Himself. Listen to the words of His tempters who said, “If you are the Son of God, come down from the Cross!” (Matt. 27:40) Did He? No; He denied His own divinity and more fully embraced His humanity, a humanity that could not, by its own power, come down. When you look upon the Cross you see your own value: in order to purchase the pearl of great price that is you, God gave everything He had—His only Son (John 3:16)—who further gave:
-His Church (John 20:15-17)
All for you. If you are worthless, then so was the Cross. We see what God has given for us; what will you give Him in return?