Again, Jesus continues to present before his apostles the inescapable consequences of following him.
Christianity cannot be divested of the cross. Making himself an example, Jesus draws the attention of his followers to the reality of persecution for those who follow him. As followers of Jesus it is even salutary to pass through the same experiences our master went through.
Since a slave is not greater than his master. It is enough that the disciple should grow to be like his master.
Hence as followers of Jesus, we must be prepared to carry our individual crosses.
It is therefore a priviledge that Jesus calls us to share both in his glory and in his agony. If we refuse to share in his agony we cannot partake in his glory.
Participation in the life of Christ is participation in the glory of Christ. If there is no good Friday there would not be an Easter Sunday.
It is noteworthy that Christian life is about paying a price to get a prize of victory.
It is this price that has a happy ending since Jesus passed through sufferings and persecutions to gain for us the prize of victory and so in the same way a Christian must pass through the same route to get to the bliss of heaven.
While following the instructions to abide with Jesus in his sufferings, he calls attention to the need to refrain from being afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. These are persecutors of Christian religion who erect all kinds of structures in order to suffocate or obliterate the Christian religion. We experience them in the making of policies and government rules aimed at oppressing and suppressing Christianity.
In a country like Nigeria, Christianity has been besieged and gradually laws and regulations aimed at endangering Christians are being smuggled in through the back door.
There are brazen attacks on the Church and the ministers of the gospel ranging from kidnapping, molestation, slander, blackmail, anti-clericalism etc. These actions are aimed at destroying the body and not the soul.
In all these, Jesus exhorts us to “A Holy Fear”. It is the fear of God as the only one who could destroy both body and soul in hell.
Christianity is about making a fundamental option for God. A reliance or abandonment of self to God. It is courage in what God can do.
This “Holy fear” entails carefulness in avoiding disobedience to God. It is an obedience to God. A preference to God. It is not a ‘slavish’ or ‘servile’ type of fear that is afraid of offending God because of punishment that comes from doing so but a Holy fear, a reverential fear that is afraid of God because of love. God initiates this fear that is borne out of love for God and allows us to respond to it so that we will not be eternally damned.
PRAYER🙏🏿: May we like the apostles find the joy and peace that accompanies the mission of Jesus Christ. Amen.
May Almighty God bless and keep you;
✝ Father, Son and the Holy Spirit, Amen
REV. FR. AMBROSE OFODILE