After looking over today’s gospel reading, a question came to mind that I can not find the answer to and I’m hoping one of you can help my understanding. I noticed in the verse Jesus said, “…and he who does not take his cross and follow me…” (RSV-CE). My question is this: since this appears to be the first time the reference to the “cross” is used and the Passion had not yet occurred, did Jesus already reveal his destiny on the Calvary cross and if not, how would his audience have known what he was taking about when referring to the “cross”? I even referred back to the D-R translation and it still states “cross”. :shrug: Thanks in advance for any help!
I don’t know the answer but a possible explanation is that
- Carrying the cross was common in Roman executions -
- The Romans were occupying the land at the time
- The Romans had no problem crucifying anyone they suspected was a criminal
- Carrying the cross was the ultimate burden - especially if you were innocent.
So perhaps that would have been the connection.
Just some thoughts…
I think from what I understand, Jesus is warning his disciples to prepare themselves in mindset for inevitable persecution.
He didn’t want there to be any surprises for any of us who choose to follow him.
Matthew 16:24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.
Mark 8:34 Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.
Luke 9:23 Then he said to them all: "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.
Luke 14:27 And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.
D-R Bible, Haydock Commentary:
Ver. 38. He that, &c. There are two kinds of crosses which our Saviour here commands us to take up: one corporal, and the other spiritual. By the former, he commands us to restrain the unruly appetites of the touch, taste, sight, &c. By the other, which is far more worthy our notice, he teaches us to govern the affections of the mind, and restrain all its irregular motions, by humility, tranquillity, modesty, peace, &c. Precious indeed in the sight of God, and glorious is that cross, which governs and brings under proper rule the lawless passions of the mind. (St. Augustine)
Hey. I noticed this too. So glad that someone else mentioned it here. I hope someone has an answer, because I don’t.
What I was thinking was that the apostles would remember what he said and understand later, after the crucifixion. I really have no idea though. I think its strange… kind of like how did the apostles know how Jesus was feeling and thinking when He was alone at Gethsemane? Its written out what He was thinking and feeling and what He said, yet He was alone… Did Jesus share that with the apostles later?
Thank you “JRKH” for your reply. I couldn’t come up with much better than you have. It would be interesting however, to research ancient texts to see if the means of crucifixion was commonly referred to as a “cross”. I might need to ask an apologist this question. I’m putting myself in the sandals of the Apostles and wondering if I would have known what a “cross” was before it became the symbol of my faith. It is an interesting detail whose answer just may shed more light (for me) on the ancient world during Jesus’ ministry.
I think it is also within the realm of possibility that this could be a “mystery” of the Gospels that came about as a result of the enlightenment brought on by the baptism of the Apostles by the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. This could also be the case for the Apostles knowing what happened in the garden. It definitely peaks my interest!
Annebeth - I think you also have a point with Jesus stating something that would be revealed in its entirety to the Apostles once is was fulfilled through his Passion and Resurrection.
Again. this could also be part of how our Lord and the Holy Spirit, in union with the Father, use mysteries of revelation and teaching to emphasize the lesson of the Christian life.
The statement is an metaphorical way of saying that following Jesus was (is) an all or nothing proposition. It would be akin to saying these days “Anyone who wishes to follow me must be willing to be blindfolded and face the firing squad.”
The Greek word we translate as “cross” is stauros, literally it means torture stake. It would have been known to the Greek speaking world that this term clearly meant a method of execution and not merely two crossed sticks. I don’t think we know what term (almost certainly Aramaic) that Jesus originially used, but I think it is safe to say the clear meaning of “method of execution” would have been preserved in the translation.
I know that JWs and others interpret “stauros” to specifically mean not a cross shaped method of execution, and am well aware of the evidence that points to this interpretation not being consistent with the Biblical statements, Koine Greek from the Pre-Constitantine era, and the testimony of early Church Fathers etc.) Still, the word itself has a literal translation that means more than just 2 crossed sticks and thus the diciplines would have been fully aware Jesus was talking about execution.
Is this a rhetorical question? For those of you who still don’t know the difference, its a form of rhetoric which veils a statement or word asked merely for effect with no answer expected. For example; Is the Pope Catholic?
If it is then what are you trying to say?
If it is not, then forgive me brother, for you are missing the point entirely and I shall have to give you a stern lecture.
Your question is just like the question that leads to the parable of the good Samaritan. Remember that that question was “Who then is my neighbor?” which came from a merchant who travels to and throw along the silk route and has no home hence no neighbor. So the question appears to be valid but it was still asked in a jokingly though naive manner.
Yours is the same kind of naive question. You think that you have a valid point but by asking it the way that you have, it shows that you are trying to exclude yourself from having to follow our Lords teachings. Remember that later in Mathew He says “ You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel” and I fear that that is what you are doing.
On the one hand you have to be commended for thinking about the readings at mass. But on the other hand you have to given a slap and told that you are an idiot because you don’t realized that you’ve just being given a grace and that you are wasting it. The Holy Spirit has pointed out to you the Word in the readings. That is God talking to you personally.
But I don’t think that you get it yet? You’re at that stage in your faith where you don’t expect God to answer you personally so when you start to look at your faith more deeply you get sidetracked in semantics.
So my answer to you would be ask around among your catholic community and find out where the nearest group is that does weekly Lectio Divina. Best bet is to find out where your nearest Jesuit neighbors are.
St John Chrysostom says a lot about this! Check out the Early Church Fathers, St John Chrysostom, Homilies on the Gospel of St Mathew, Homily LV:
MATT. XVI. 24. let him renounce himself,and take up his cross and follow me."
+] THEN; when? When Peter said, 'Be it far from Thee, this shall not be unto Thee; and was told, "Get thee behind me, Satan."For He was by no means satisfied with the mere rebuke, but, willing also more abundantly to show both the extravagance of what Peter had said, and the benefit of His passion, He saith, "Thy word to me is, thee is, “Not only is it hurtful to thee, and destructive, to hinder me and to be displeased at my Passion, but it will be impossible for thee even to be saved, unless thou thyself too be continually prepared for death.”
(For context see NPNF1-10. St. Chrysostom: Homilies on the Gospel of Saint Matthew)
+] So also Christ; He said not, “Let him not spare himself,” but very strictly, “Let him renounce himself;” that is, let him have nothing to do with himself, but give himself up to all dangers and conflicts; and let him so feel, as though another were suffering it all.
+] And He said not, “Let him deny,“but “Let him renounce;” even by this small addition intimating again, how very far it goes. For this latter is more than the former. R] +] “And let him take up his cross.” This arises out of the other. For to hinder thy supposing that words, and insults, and reproaches are to be the limits of our self-renunciation, He saith also how far one ought to renounce one’s self; that is, unto death, and that a reproachful death. Therefore He said not, “Let him renounce himself unto death,” but, “Let him take up his cross;” setting forth the reproachful death; and that not once, nor twice, but throughout all life one ought so to do. “Yea,” saith He, “bear about this death continually, and day by day be ready for slaughter. For since many have indeed contemned riches, and pleasure, and glory, but death they despised not, but feared dangers; I,” saith He, “will that my champion should wrestle even unto blood, and that the limits of his course should reach unto slaughter; so that although one must undergo death, death with reproach, the accursed death, and that upon evil surmise, we are to bear all things nobly, and rather to rejoice in being suspected.”
+] “And let him follow me.” That is, it being possible for one to suffer, yet not to follow Him, when one doth not suffer for Him (for so robbers often suffer grievously, and violaters of tombs, and sorcerers); to hinder thy supposing that the mere nature of thy calamities is sufficient, He adds the occasion of these calamities.
+] And what is it? In order that, so doing and suffering, thou mayest follow Him; that for Him thou mayest undergo all things; that thou mayest possess the other virtues also. For this too is expressed by “Let him follow me;” so as to show forth not fortitude only, such as is exercised in our calamities, but temperance also, and moderation, and all self-restraint. This being properly “to follow,” the giving heed also to the other virtues, and for His sake suffering all. R] +] For there are who follow the devil even to the endurance of all this, and for his sake give up their own lives; but we for Christ, or rather for our own sakes: they indeed to harm themselves both here and there; but we, that we may gain both lives.
+] How then is it not extreme dullness, not to show forth even the same fortitude with them that perish; and this, when we are to reap from it so many crowns? Yet with us surely Christ Himself is present to be our help, but with them no one.
+] Now He had indeed already spoken this very injunction, when He sent them, saying, “Go not into the way of the Gentiles” (for, saith He, “I send you as sheep in the midst of wolves,” and, “ye shall be brought before kings and governors”)but now with more intensity and severity. For then He spake of death only, but here He hath mentioned a cross also, and a continual cross. For “let him take up,” saith He, “his cross;” that is,” let him carry it continually and bear it.” And this He is wont to do in everything; not in the first instance, nor from the beginning, but quietly and gradually, bringing in the greater commandments, that the hearers may not count it strange. R] +] 3. Then, because the saying seemed to be vehement, see how He softens it by what follows, and sets down rewards surpassing our toils; and not rewards only, but also the penalties of vice: nay, on these last He dwells more than on those, since not so much His bestowing blessings, as His threat of severities, is wont to bring ordinary men to their senses. See at least how He both begins here from this, and ends in this.
+] “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it,” saith He, “but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake, shall find it. For what is a man profiled,’ if he should gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul ?”