Catholic Men’s Daily Devotional and Bible Study – 18th Week in Ordinary time – Friday – 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 voluntarily endure 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. The Cross also shocked the disciples for willingly accepting death was counter to the human instinct for survival and because the Mideast culture was steeped in violence and warfare. 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; Catholics must be willing to lay down their lives for Christ’s sake.
Christ then reveals a concrete reason why disciples should be willing to die for the Gospel; it will effect their eternal destiny. 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 say (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.
Awed by Jesus Christ – Son 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) Christ’s demand that each Catholic man pick up his cross can lose its shock value; the vast majority of Catholic men have only seen crucifixes but have not seen an actual crucifixion. 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 anew on Christ’s personal call to pick up your cross.
3) It is easy to lose sight of your eternal destiny when the challenges and pleasures of daily living are front and center. Reflect on your own mortality and ask Christ to help you aspire to the saintly life, to willingly pick up your cross of sacrifice and to have a burning desire for Heaven.
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