The Gospel reading from the Mass for Friday of the 18th Week of Ordinary Time is Matthew 16:24-28.

Having shockingly predicted His Passion (Matt 16:21-23), Christ now gives the Apostles a further shock by revealing that they, and all Christ’s disciples, will have to be willing to endure extreme suffering and that men will be judged and rewarded on their conduct.

Christ’s call that disciples must pick up the means of death (i.e. the Cross) was a shocking requirement for everyone at that time had been exposed to the gruesome and excruciating evil of human crucifixion; Romans publicly crucified thousands to frighten men into submission. The Cross was (and is) shocking for human instinct is to preserve life, not accept death. Christ’s meaning is not simply figurative; He speaks of men going to their deaths (losing one’s life). The sacrifice that Christ will demonstrate Himself and requires His disciples to willingly accept is complete; Christ’s disciples must be willing to lay down their lives for Christ’s sake.

Christ then reveals the reason why disciples should be willing to die for the Gospel; it will ensure their eternal salvation. Christ, assisted by angels, will be the exclusive Judge of every person (whether Catholic or not) based on their conduct; elsewhere, Christ describes the basis for His judgement includes what men’s words (Matt 12:36-37), thoughts (Matt 5:28-30), actions (Matt 7:21), acts of forgiveness (Matt 6:14-15) and works of mercy (Matt 25:31-46). Men’s holiness on earth has an eternal impact. Christ’s promise that men will “see the Son of man coming in His Kingdom” comes true in the Resurrection.

Awed by Jesus ChristSon of God and Son of Man, Christ confirms His Father’s glory and the existence of angels. Divine Priest, Christ reveals that His disciples must be willing to follow Him in the sacrifice of His Passion. Divine Prophet, Christ confirms the coming of the Judgement and predicts His resurrection into His Kingdom. Divine Judge, Christ reveals that He will judge everyone and repay each soul based on what they have done.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1)  Men are moved by the heroic sacrifice of men; men flock to “hero movies” and give honor to fallen military, police and firefighters, etc. Reflect on Christ’s heroic sacrifice by gruesome torture and crucifixion for the sake of repentant and faithful men; Christ died for our sins.

2) While atheists promote the idea that men are simply thinking meat, Christ confirms that God has given each man both a body and a soul. Review the Catechism’s teaching on the Body and Soul (CCC 362-368) and pray for Christ to preserve your body and soul in this world and the world to come.

3) Christ’s demand that each Catholic man pick up his cross can lose its shock value; modern Catholic men have seen crucifixes but not crucifixions. Instead of a wearing a crucifix, imagine wearing an instrument of murder around your neck; an electric chair, a vial of cyanide, the beheading sword of a Islamic terrorist. Reflect on The Crucifixion and the Sign of the Cross (CCC 598, 616-618, 1235, 1816, 2157, 2166) and pray for Christ to help you always make the Sign of the Cross with great reverence.

Spiritual Practices – Include in Today’s Prayers

Sacred Mystery of Rosary – The Sorrowful Mysteries

Daily Devotion – The Passion and Death of our Lord Jesus Christ

Virtue of the Day – Faith

Corporal Work of Mercy – To visit the sick

Spiritual Work of Mercy – To forgive all injuries