Is Christ Worth It?
By Fr. Jay Kythe
(Homily delivered at St. Pius X Church. Fr. Kythe has answered the question for himself and on August 15th entrusted himself to Our Lady and entered the Benedictine Abbey in Atchison, Kansas.)
“Who do you say that I am?” Jesus asks St. Peter and the apostles.
St Peter responds on behalf of the apostles, “You are the Christ of God.”
This is the famous question that is posed to all of us, and expects an answer, hopefully one that is similar to St. Peter’s, filled with faith. And many homilies will ask this question this weekend and ask you to reflect upon it. What I would like to do is reflect upon the answer Jesus gives in the Gospel in answering His own question.
There are four parts to it:
1. “The Son of Man must suffer greatly.”
This is the first surprise. For when St Peter answers that Jesus is “the Christ of God,” it means that Jesus is a leader who will triumph over Israel’s foes.
But to be someone who suffers? What value could suffering possibly have? Jesus reminds us of this and applies it to us when he says that “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself.”
Gains in the world are not our goal; victories in the next, even at the cost of this world, are.
In order to choose Christ, we will have to go against the world and perhaps even our families.
Is Christ worth it? If He is, we will encounter suffering in this world.
2. “He must be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the scribes.”
If Christ is not a political leader, He must be a religious leader, right? No, says Jesus. He is far greater than our worldly categories. Jesus doesn’t reject the religious leaders; they reject Him. Following Christ in this world will involve rejection by those in the world. The follower must “take up his cross daily and follow me.” Daily.
Choosing Jesus Christ isn’t a one-time thing. Yes, He must be our “personal Lord and savior”—this is a daily choice. We don’t do an altar call, have a conversion moment, and be set for life.
We can lose our salvation by our choices against God (sins). We need to choose Christ daily, take up our crosses daily, follow Him daily.
Is Christ worth it?
3. “He must be killed.”
When St Peter heard this, perhaps he thought this was a bit much.
Not only will Jesus suffer, He will give all to the last measure. Jesus tells us, “Whoever wishes to save his life will lose it ….”
Dying to one’s self is one of the hardest things to do in the Christian life. Every time we choose Christ and His ways over and above the ways of the world, even when we don’t want to, there is a real death to our selves. It is a sharing in the death of Christ. And let us not forget that “no greater love has one than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
Love involves giving of our selves to another. Perfection of love lies in a total, unselfish gift of self to the other. Husbands should do that for their wives, and wives should do that for their husbands. Parents should do that for their children. But ultimately, when one dies for another, that is the greatest, most perfect form of love.
The Christian martyrs looked to Christ and they had to make a choice. Should I say yes to this death before me?
Is Christ worth it?
4. “On the third day he must be raised.”
I remember someone complaining that we Catholics only talk about suffering and death. What he didn’t realize was that none of this has any meaning without the resurrection. The joy of the resurrection is the key to everything in the spiritual life. “Whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.”
His way is not a ticket to misery but to joy; it isn’t a way to destruction but to freedom.
On this side of heaven, we only see the doorway of death, and it can depress us. But we must look past the doorway to eternal life. That gives us hope in the Christian life.
Hope isn’t about “I hope I have a good meal.” Rather, Hope is about keeping our eyes fixed on Heaven and Eternity, which helps us to carry our crosses daily.
Is Christ worth it? Is He worth keeping our eyes fixed on?
In all four of these, I keep asking, “Is Christ worth it?”
As I’ve studied the lives of saints, they had that one moment at some point when they asked this question and answered with a resounding and thunderous, “Yes!” And everything they faced afterwards echoed with this question and answer, to the point of denying the world and their families, comforts and opportunities, and even sometimes their own lives.
“Who do you say that I am?” is a dangerous question.
Answer it, and you will have to stand by your answer and change your life in accordance with the answer.
Is the answer worth it?
Now do you see why many people simply refuse to answer that question?
This article, Is Christ Worth It? is a post from The Bellarmine Forum.
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