Wednesday, September 8, 2004

Christian Heritage - September 7 - The Discipleship of the Cross

"Our Lord and Savior said that we must take up our cross and follow him. What does it mean to take up one's cross? Bearing every annoyance patiently. That is following Christ. When someone begins to follow his way of life and his commandments, that person will meet resistance on every side. He or she will be opposed, mocked, even persecuted, and this not only by unbelievers but also by people who to all appearances belong to the body of Christ, though they are really excluded from it by their wickedness; people who, being Christians only in name, never stop persecuting true Christians.

"If you want to follow Christ, then, take up his cross without delay. Endure injuries, do not be overcome by them. If we would fulfill the Lord's command: If anyone wants to be my disciple, let him take up his cross and follow me, we must strive with God's help to do as the apostle says: As long as we have food and clothing, let this content us. Otherwise, if we seek more material goods than we need and desire to become rich, we may fall prey to temptation. The devil may trick us into wanting the many useless and harmful things that plunge people into ruin and destruction. May we be free from this temptation through the protection of our Lord, who lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit for ever and ever. Amen."

The Bible, as Calvin said, is the school of the Holy Spirit; and, as the Gospels make clear, the Cross is our homework. Praying to "accept Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior" truly means praying to make the cross your personal load and service.

Caesarius of Arles (AD 470-543), Sermo 159, 5-6: CCL 104, 653-654

Caesarius was the archbishop of Arles, was very much influenced by Saint Augustine and combated semi-Pelagianism at the Council of Orange in 529.

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