Summary: What does taking up one’s Cross mean?

SMM 19-06-05

Following Christ

Story In a small country village in Sicily, there were two brothers, renown members of the local Mafia.

They were mean, bad and very rich.

No one had a good word to say about them. Indeed, everyone seemed to have a story about how they had either been cheated or maligned by the brothers.

One day, one of the brothers, Dan died.

The surviving brother, Jo - with a rare touch of conscience felt that something nice should be said about his brother Dan at the funeral.

So he went to the local vicar and said:

I know that folk in the village hate us, you don’t know the half of what we have been up to. However, I want you to say something nice about Dan at his funeral.

I want you to say that Dan was a saint when you preach at his funeral.

If you agree to do that, ‘ll show my gratitude by giving 100,000 Euros towards the repair of the church. And here’s the cheque for the amount.

If you don’t, youll be in big trouble with me!

The vicar thought about it for a minute, agreed and cashed the cheque for 100 thousand Euro.

Word soon got out about the deal. And a week later, the whole village turned out for the funeral, because everyone wondered what the vicar would say.

After the opening hymns had been sung and the readings had been read, the vicar climbed up into the pulpit and delivered his sermon.

Eyeing Jo, sitting in the front row, the vicar said how evil the pair of them had been. He went on to say how Dan had cheated, not only in business but on his wife, how he had lied and how had had no concern for anyone but himself.

In fact he went on to say what a downright scoundrel Dan had been.

After ten minutes of preaching in this vein, the vicar, being a man of his word, ended his sermon by simply saying

"But compared to his brother, Jo - Dan was a saint.

The Bible uses the term “saint” and it means simply to be a Christian.

The etymology of the word “Saint” derives from the word “sanctified” – that is set apart for God.

In other words, a saint is simply a disciple of Jesus

Sarah and Bill have brought Arthur here today to start him on the road to becoming a saint – to becoming a disciple of Jesus.

You see meeting God has a profound effect on our lives.

And our Gospel reading today is very appropriate because it talks of the cost of discipleship

If Arthur decides for himself that he will follow Christ, he will not always find it easy .

And as his godparent s and parents, you need to be there to support him and advise him as he matures to seek the will of God in his life.

Jesus, in our Gospel reading this morning said:

Anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. (Mt 10:38).

Christians have, over the years followed the call of Christ to take the Gospel into all the world with all its consequences.

One such young man was Jim Eliot - who was one of the missionaries killed taking the Gospel to the Auca Indians of Ecuador on January 5, 1955.

Jim Eliot once very poignantly said

He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.

It is however not just in the mission field that

Christians have paid the ultimate price for their faith

Story: Maximilian Kolbe (1894-1941) was a Catholic priest, who was put in the Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz for his faith.

During his time there, he would share his meagre rations of food with those around him who were hungry.

A protestant doctor who treated the patients in Kolbe’s block said that Kolbe would not let himself be treated before any other prisoners in that block.

He sacrificed himself for the other prisoners. The doctor said about Kolbe:

"From my observations, the virtues in the Servant of God were no momentary impulse such as are often found in men, they sprang from a habitual practice, deeply woven into his personality “

One day a man in Kolbe’s block escaped.

At the end of the day, the man that had escaped was not found and so the Nazi commandant told the prisoners that ten men would be selected to die in the starvation cell- in place of the one that had escaped.

One man, a polish sergeant (Francis Ga- jow -ni - czek) who was selected, begged to be spared.

He was worried that his family would not be able to survive without him.

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