by Fr Richard Heilman | March 7, 2019 8:28 AM
NO CROSS, NO CROWN. NO PAIN, NO GAIN. NO GUTS, NO GLORY.
St. James summons us to see the challenges we face as opportunities to rise to new heights of existence, “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him” (Jas 1:12).
In the military, the cross and crown symbolizes a soldier’s willingness to remain faithful to the mission at hand, to each other, and to country, no matter what. This kind of unwavering dedication is exactly what Jesus meant when he gave us the criterion for enlisting in his elite fighting force: “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake, he will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?” (Lk 9:23-25).
While sounding like a military drill instructor, St John Vianney expounds on this radical call to discipleship: “There is no doubt about it: a person who loves pleasure, who seeks comfort, who flies from anything that might spell suffering, who is over-anxious, who complains, who blames, and who becomes impatient at the least little thing which does not go his way — a person like that is a Christian only in name; he is only a dishonor to his religion, for Jesus Christ has said so: ‘Anyone who wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross every day of his life, and follow Me.’”
The Gospels stories show how Jesus touched people in ways that made them question the direction of their lives. Some turned away because his challenge seemed to be too hard. But many others were so moved by his mission and ministry that they were compelled to search for a more perfect way of living and being. Where do you stand? Are you ready to put it all on the line? This means nothing less than to do what God is calling you. Are you ready to say “yes” to the call to become his champion? (Excerpt from my book, Church Militant Field Manual).
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