Jesus in today’s gospel reading informs and shows his disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly from the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised. This news must have gotten them worried that Peter took Jesus aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you.” But Jesus rebuked Him, saying, “Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.” Jesus then goes on to give and explain to His disciples what is needed to be a true disciple of His, by saying, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.” So according to Jesus, the demands of discipleship are denying ourselves of earthly pleasures, taking up our crosses, and following Him.

Before we go into the demands of discipleship, let us pay attention to the fact that following Jesus is a call and not an imposition on us by the Church or anyone. This is the reason why Jesus used the phrase, “Whoever wishes to come after me,” thereby clearly reminding us that for one to become His disciple, that person must do so out of their own free will and conviction. My dear friend in Christ, are you freely worshiping God, or are you doing so because of what people will say, or to please them? Are you a disciple of Christ today because the Church mandates you to do so as a christian, or because you love God, want to praise Him, want adore Him, want thank Him for all He does for you, and to ask Him for your needs?

So in order to be a true disciple of Christ, we must first deny ourselves. Denying ourselves means that we have to say ‘no’ to ourselves, and say ‘yes’ to God. Saying ‘no’ to ourselves and ‘yes’ to God entails enthroning God to be the center and focus of our lives and not ourselves or anything else. In order to enthrone God as the focus and center of our lives, we must practice self-denial, by staying away from materialism, vain material accomplishments that destroys our relationship with God, and avoiding the pleasure-seeking mentality of the world.

Secondly, in order to be a true disciple of Christ, we must take up our crosses everyday and follow Him. It does not matter what our crosses are, or how difficult they might seem, Jesus tells us to accept and endure all the trials or challenges we face, and all the tribulations in our lives like pain, poverty, sickness, cruelty, hardheartedness, weariness with calmness and serenity.

Lastly, in order to be a true disciple of Christ we must follow Him. Following Jesus means becoming like Him, which entails both obeying God’s commandments, obeying His teachings and imitating His example. My dear friends in Christ, let us willingly be true and faithful disciples of Christ by wholeheartedly denying ourselves of the materialistic and pleasure-seeking mentality of the world; by taking up our crosses daily, no matter how hard they seem and continually following Jesus by obeying His teachings and imitating His example.