There is nothing ambiguous about what Jesus is saying in today’s Gospel. “If you want to be a follower of mine then renounce yourself, take up your cross and follow me.” Jesus tells us that there is a threefold action that has to occur in order that we become his disciples.

First, we have to want it! There is no way that we are going to persevere in the walk of being a disciple if we do not want it from the depth of our beings. We have to take this aspect seriously as it is foundational to the next two! Is the deepest desire of our heart that we want to grow closer to Jesus and become more like him or are we more interested in what the world has to offer us? This is the bottom line equation of this question and there is no way of avoiding it! What do you really want as regards your spiritual life?

Secondly, we have to be ready to deny ourselves. Any person who has followed a particular career path, especially in something like the world of sports will know what this means. Are you willing to take up the discipline of being a disciple of Jesus? It is the same sort of question a coach will ask any aspiring sports man or woman. Are we ready to be faithful in the sometimes, no, more often than not times, boring, mundane, difficult and seemingly endless aspects of learning to be a disciple and then maintaining our spiritual fitness through prayer, Scripture reading etc?

Thirdly, we have to be ready to follow Jesus . . . wherever he leads us. It is the Master who dictates where the disciple goes, not the disciple! This can be quite a sticking point in the life of a disciple as it is when we really see how detached a person is from their own desires. It is here that we discover the level of willingness to choose a path of suffering for the sake of others. It is here we discover what it means to lay down our lives in the service of the Gospel, rather than just seek the pleasures the world has to offer us.

What is the deepest desire of my heart? Am I willing to go all the way with the Lord?

Jesus, you gave everything in obedience to the Father’s will. You held nothing back! Help me to choose the path you offer over all the other options in my life.