August 7, 2020 – 18th Week of Ordinary Time

“Being willing to request for a stop at Calvary – and to embrace the Cross of Christ!”

(Based on Nahum 2:1, 3; 3:1-3, 6-7 and Mt 16:24-28 – Friday of the 18th Week of Ordinary Time)

Dayton Ohio in America has an elevated railway.

One of the stations of this railway was near a great Roman Catholic burial ground named Calvary Cemetery.

The name of this station was Calvary Station.

The unique aspect of this station was that the trains did not stop at this station, except on request.

The reason?
For several years, in that part of the town, there were many more dead than living people.

Therefore, just after leaving the nearest station, the train guard would open the door and shout:
“Next station is Calvary! Train stops on request only…
Anybody for Calvary?”

Perhaps this a parable of life’s train!

At all other stations, life’s train stops – market-street station, school-street station, church-street station, home-avenue station etc…

But only at one station, there is a stop only when someone chooses to: the Station of Calvary!

The Gospel of the Day has Jesus, the Guard of our Life’s Train echoing the invitatory words, “Anybody for Calvary?”

Jesus tells His disciples, “Whoever wishes to come after Me, must deny Himself, take up His cross and follow Me” (Mt 16:24)

One of the finest aspects about Jesus, as a Person and as a Teacher, is the clarity and precision that He maintained in all His words and deeds.

He was clear and precise of what was His Mission on the earth
He is clear and precise also, of what is expected of His followers.

There is no pretense or deception in His talks.

There are no loopholes or strings attached in His demands

He makes it precisely clear that the one who follows Him must fulfil the three basic conditions:

  1. Denying Oneself
  2. Taking up the Cross
  3. Following Him
  4. Denying oneself – demands that one is willing to entrust the reins of one’s life totally to the Master.

It means a priority of the highest order that is reserved for the Lord and His Kingdom
It means a constant rejection of desires that cause the self to be greater than the Lord

  1. Taking Up the Cross – demands that one is wholeheartedly and readily willing to do one’s duty as a Christian, joyfully and steadily

It means an availability to be at the service of the Lord and His Kingdom at all times
It means a seeking and an acceptance of the Will of God at every moment of life

  1. Following Him – demands that one keeps a steadfast focus on the Lord alone and keeping away anything that would cause a distraction

It means a faithful and an unflinched commitment to walk only on the path that the Lord demands
It means a radical letting go of anything that can be contrary to the Gospel ways and the Kingdom values.

But very often we find that these things are easier said, than done…

We wish to deny ourselves. But too often….

Our selfish desires dominate over us and we get disillusioned
We give in to making excuses or dilute the seriousness of our call

We wish to take up our cross. But too often…

We feel ourselves overburdened with responsibilities
We fear the hardships of disciplining ourselves and shy away from it

We wish to follow Him. But too often…

Worldly distractions and human affairs preoccupy us and our hearts get divided in our loyalty to the Lord
Our enthusiastic hearts get weighed down by scandals or lack of motivations or even opposing forces

Prophet Nahum strongly reminds us of the danger of straying away from the known and revealed paths of the Lord – just like the city of Nin’evah had failed to have a ‘sustained turning away from sin’…
… “I will throw filth at you and treat you with contempt, and make you a gazingstock. And all who look on you will shrink from you and say, Wasted is Nin′eveh; who will bemoan her? Whence shall I seek comforters for her?” (Nah 3:6-7)

Yes… the Lord, through today’s Gospel gives a call once again – to embrace a life of the Cross!

The way of the Cross is the only true path for a Christian.
That was the way of the Lord.

That is to be the way of each follower too.

As Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German theologian says, “To endure the cross is not tragedy; it is the suffering which is the fruit of an exclusive allegiance to Jesus Christ”.

A life embracing the cross is the hallmark of a Christian – in self-denial, in total commitment and with complete sincerity.

As our life-train chugs on, Jesus, the Guard echoes the call, “Anybody for Calvary?”

Calvary is “the offence of the cross”

None stops there except the one who chooses to
It’s a stumbling block for the Jews and foolishness to the Greeks (1 Cor 1:23)
But to those who believe, it is the power and wisdom of God (1 Cor 1: 24)

Are we willing to request for a stop at Calvary – to embrace the Cross of Christ?

Today we celebrate the Feast of St Dominic, the Founder of the Order of Preachers (Dominicans).

St Dominic boldly followed this Call of the Gospel and lived an austere life in much humility and love of God….and who promoted the Devotion to the Holy Rosary.

He challenges us to “Arm ourselves with prayer rather than a sword; to wear humility rather than fine clothes”

On this First Friday of the Month, as we consecrate our lives to the Sacred Heard of Jesus, let us also empower ourselves, like St Dominic, with the armour of the Rosary.

Let us dwell, with Our Blessed Mamma, who perfectly lived the life of being a True Disciple of Jesus – who denied Herself…took up Her cross… and followed Him wholeheartedly!

God Bless! _Live Jesus!

  • Fr Jijo Jose Manjackal MSFS
    Bengaluru, India

Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “Let us walk joyously, dear souls, among the difficulties of this passing life…

These pains will have an end when our life ends, after which there will be only joy…

… only contentment, only eternal consolation!”

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