Take Up Your Cross and Follow Me

Dear brothers and sisters, “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24).

A Clarion Call

In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus Christ tells us, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” Our crosses are the daily sufferings we bear as Christians, the persecutions, rejections, trials, and tribulations. We carry our crosses when we are patient with others, even though doing that is very uncomfortable, and when we show compassion and forgiveness to one who offends us, even though revenge would have seemed to be sweeter. We carry our cross when we deny ourselves certain pleasures and embrace the life of service to others. Thus, we offer sacrificial love to others in imitation of Jesus Christ. Undoubtedly, our crosses come in different forms, shapes, and sizes.

Acceptance and daily carrying of one’s cross is a mark of a true disciple of Christ. A true disciple is one who follows in the footsteps of their master. Our master, Jesus Christ, accepted His cross, carried it on the rough road to Golgotha, was crucified on the cross, and redeemed the world by it. This is the hallmark of our Lenten Season celebration.

The Lenten Season

Lenten season is a period of forty days of prayer, fasting, abstinence, and almsgiving, during which followers of Christ (Christians) undertake to follow in the footsteps of Jesus Christ and thus establish a better relationship with God. It is a period of penance, repentance, reconciliation, and renewal of one’s life in preparation for the celebration of the Lord’s Passion, Death, and Resurrection. Repentance and renewal of one’s life come from obedience to the commandments of the Lord. In the first reading, Moses enjoined the people to obey the commandments of the Lord so as to live and prosper. Similarly, the Church enjoins us to obey God’s commandments, especially during this Lenten season, and equally asks us to heed God’s voice and hold fast to Him.

The Lenten Disciplines

The Lenten disciplines are ways through which Christians answer the clarion call of Jesus Christ to deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow him. In undertaking these disciplines of lent, we resolve to be more intentional in our spiritual journey, more focused on imitating Jesus Christ and following in His footsteps, and more committed to living the Christian life.

Prayer. Prayer is the raising of one’s mind and heart to God or the requesting of good things from God (CCC. 2559). It is a communication and interaction with God. St. Therese of Lisieux said that prayer is a surge of the heart to God. In prayer, the soul seeks God, creates a relationship with Him, and worships, adores, praises, and glorifies Him. Prayer helps us to recognize our limitations, emptiness, and dependence on God and thus makes us humble. During the Lenten season, Christians are encouraged to pray always and deepen their relationship with God.

Fasting and Abstinence. Fasting, simply put, is the voluntary reduction or elimination of the intake of food for the purpose of controlling our unruly passion and spiritual growth. Broadly speaking, fasting goes beyond reducing food intake to refraining from life enjoyments and sinful actions. Fasting is also a way of expressing penitence and repentance, as we read in some passages of the scripture (Jonah 3:5; Joel 2:13). Christians are encouraged to fast during the Lenten season. While it is important to fast from material food and things, the Lord tells us that the best fasting is to fast from sin and sinful ways (Isaiah 58:3-7).

Furthermore, there is also the practice of abstinence or giving up something during the Lenten season. Traditionally, Catholics have been abstaining from eating meat on Fridays of Lent. People are also encouraged to give up different other things (like sweet stuff), habits (smoking or drinking), or even bad attitudes that hinder their spiritual growth. This is the way to go.

Almsgiving. This is the Lenten discipline that tasks our generosity and charity. We are encouraged to give alms in various ways during the Lenten season. Almsgiving is one of the ways of embodying the teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ on the love of God and neighbor.

Always remember that Jesus loves you!

[Readings: Dt 30:15-20; Lk 9:22-25]

Fr. Sylvanus Amaobi

Fr. Sylvanus Ifeanyi Amaobi is from Nkume in Imo State of Nigeria. He is the second Child of a family of seven, three males and four females to Mr. Sylvanus U. Amaobi and Late Mrs Veronica C. Amaobi. He is the Pastor of St. Cecilia Catholic Church, Claremore Oklahoma in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA. Email address: [email protected]. Phone numbers: Office, 9183412343.


  1. Sr. Olisaemeka Okwara on February 15, 2024 at 7:48 am

    Thank you Father Syllabus for this reflection. I find it helpful for my lenten journey.

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