“If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” Luke 9:23
As we quickly approach Holy Week, we are blessed in our reading of the Gospel of Luke to journey together towards Jerusalem with Jesus. Today we hear Jesus tell us that we must be willing to deny ourselves if we are to follow him.
To understand what denial looks like, we can look ahead in the story to Peter’s denial of Jesus. What did it entail? He said, “I do not know the man.” To ignore the existence of something. Therefore, if one denies himself, it is to ignore the very existence of their person. It is to say, “I do not know myself.” So, if we are to follow Jesus, we are being asked to forget that we exist, which is truly difficult considering how much importance we put on our existence. It is here, in this attitude that we find use of denying ourselves small pleasures during this Lenten season, as a way of toughening our skin for trials that may lie ahead.
It is only with an attitude of self-denial that we can hope to pick up our cross and follow Jesus. It is only then that we can be prepared when hardship comes our way, that we can hope to be His disciple.
May God bless you.