Scripture Reading: Matthew 16:22-24

The word embrace means to clasp in the arms; it is an expression of affection, a show of great love. To embrace means to accept with the whole heart. Totally accept the power of the Cross and all its pain and glory. With great desire, cherish the Cross always especially during this period of Lent, Hug it to your bosom, to your spirit, to your heart.

Today the message of the Cross has become unpopular and unattractive, as very little of it is preached and or talked about. We hear more about the crown of glory and we want to wear it now, but we often forget that the crown of glory comes after having worn the crown of thorns. We look at those who seem to be wearing crowns and perhaps because they’re popular, they draw crowds, or are hailed by men. This leads us to think that “the Man, has made it”! “I’ll follow them!” Thank God that the Church during this period of Lent advises us that before we move on to follow or join them, let us check out their relationship with the Cross of Jesus Christ, for a true and enduring crown of glory can only be gotten through the way of the cross.

The cross is painful and ordinarily undesirable but it is the will of God. In Matthew 16, just after Peter made his awesome confession that Jesus is the Christ (Messiah), the Son of the Living God, Jesus told the disciples that He was going to Jerusalem to suffer many things, to be killed, and that He would be raised from the dead. Peter replied to this statement from Jesus by proclaiming, “God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You.” With that Jesus turned to Peter and said, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.” Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” (Matthew 16:22-24)

Satan, the prince of this world, used Peter to say, “Spare yourself, take care of yourself, protect ‘number one’”. Jesus says the opposite — deny yourselves, die to self — even though it’s painful. The cross was an excruciating method of death, a prolonged one that many would not accept as God’s will.

Beloved, the church encourages us at this time to listen to the Son of God who gave His life willingly that the world may be saved. Refuse to struggle for the temporary crown which Satan offers. Go for the enduring one offered to you by Christ through the way of the Cross. Charles de Faucauld concludes this reflection as he says, “To love God is to will what He wills.”

MASS:  VIOLET Num 21:4-9; Ps 102:1-2. 15-17. 18-20 (R. 1); Jn 8:21-30

Prayer Points:

  1. Lord Jesus, if I am walking in the opposite direction to Your will, stop me and help me to follow the direction of Your will, no matter how easy or difficulty it may be. In Jesus name. Amen.
  2. Keep me from deliberate sins O’ Lord, don’t let them control me and cleanse me of my secret/hidden faults in Jesus name. Amen.
  3. Father, make me to abide by Your Word, stand firm and keep my promises/vows, even when it hurts. God when I am weak, please revive my soul and bring endless joy to my heart. Amen.
  4. Pray for the success of the International Retreat for all Distributors, Partners and Users of Daily Strength Devotional on Thursday 20th to Saturday 23th April 2017 holding at the Jubilee Retreat and Conference Centre, Effurun, Warri, Delta State

Exercise: Take the prayer of St. Ignatius De Loyola in Section A.

Meditation: 2 Timothy. 4:1-5