Are you happy?
A simple question really. If you are someone who says “yes”, good for you. Now, examine yourself. Why? What makes you happy? Are you truly happy or is it an illusion?
Now, if you answered “no”, same thing. Why? What makes you unhappy? Is it really a big deal? Why does an event or a thing, a part of the great plan of God, make you sad?
The mess of our times – with politics, with Covid – is the result of unhappiness, dissatisfaction. Dissatisfaction with the laws, with our nation’s leaders, with the virus, and with God.
Then the question becomes how do we fix this mess?
Let’s take a look at the Gospel.
The thing that sticks out and confuses many Catholics in this passage is this line: “If anyone comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.”
At first glance, that doesn’t sound like fixing things.
Why would Jesus tell us to hate these things, these people? I mean, isn’t Jesus all about love?
Don’t worry. Jesus doesn’t mean literally hate. He is God. He is Love. What He means is that we should love God so much that all our other loves will look like hate compared to His.
Now, you may be thinking, “Isn’t that a bit selfish of God to want everyone to love Him above their wives, children, and family?”
No. Look at it this way.
Is it selfish of your spouse if they want you to love them more than a cookie? Even if the cookie is the most perfectly baked cookie on the face of planet earth?
No. Of course not.
Now, I’m not saying that your spouse is a cookie, to make that quite clear, but what I am saying is that it is that way for God. We are like cookies compared to His greatness.
Later he says “Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.”
Easy enough, right?
We hear it all the time. But do we actually do it? Do we meet the challenges, the crosses that are put in front of us? Do we embrace them with open arms like Jesus did?
If you were one of the people who answered “no” to the happy question at the beginning, found that your happiness was an illusion, or are just going about your day like a normal person, take up your cross. Whatever it may be. You see, the readings of today are all about doing something. Not feeling something, not thinking something, doing something. Now, what use is all of this, all these nuggets of wisdom, if we don’t actually do it? That is Jesus’ point. Do it. Take up that cross and rejoice. The action is what matters in the long run.
Perpetua Phelps is a high school student residing in West Michigan and is the second of four children. Apart from homeschooling, Perpetua enjoys volunteering at her church, attending retreats, studying Latin and French, and reading classics such as Beowulf, The Lord of the Rings, C.S. Lewis’ Space Trilogy, and Mark Twain’s Joan of Arc. She also spends much time writing novels, essays, and poetry for fun and competition. A passionate Tolkien fan, Perpetua is a founding member of a Tolkien podcast.