First reading Nahum 2:1,3,3:1-3,6-7

Israel restored; Nineveh ruined

See, over the mountains the messenger hurries!
‘Peace!’ he proclaims.
Judah, celebrate your feasts,
carry out your vows,
for Belial will never pass through you again;
he is utterly annihilated.
Yes, the Lord is restoring the vineyard of Jacob
and the vineyard of Israel.
For the plunderers had plundered them,
they had broken off their branches.
 
Woe to the city soaked in blood,
full of lies,
stuffed with booty,
whose plunderings know no end!
The crack of the whip!
The rumble of wheels!
Galloping horse,
jolting chariot,
charging cavalry,
flash of swords,
gleam of spears…
a mass of wounded,
hosts of dead,
countless corpses;
they stumble over the dead.
I am going to pelt you with filth,
shame you, make you a public show.
And all who look on you will turn their backs on you and say,
‘Nineveh is a ruin.’
Could anyone pity her?
Where can I find anyone to comfort her?
 
 

Responsorial Psalm Deuteronomy 32:35-36,39,41

It is the Lord who deals death and life.
 
It is close, the day of their ruin;
  their doom comes at speed.
For the Lord will see his people righted,
  he will take pity on his servants.
 
See now that I, I am He,
  and beside me there is no other god.
It is I who deal death and life;
  when I have struck it is I who heal.
 
When I have whetted my flashing sword
  I will take up the cause of Right,
I will give my foes as good again,
  I will repay those who hate me.
 
 

Gospel Matthew 16:24-28

Anyone who loses his life for my sake will find it

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me. For anyone who wants to save his life will lose it; but anyone who loses his life for my sake will find it. What, then, will a man gain if he wins the whole world and ruins his life? Or what has a man to offer in exchange for his life?
  ‘For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of his Father with his angels, and, when he does, he will reward each one according to his behaviour. I tell you solemnly, there are some of these standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming with his kingdom.’
 
 
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To deny to ourselves

“If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me”. These are challenging words from Jesus to all of us. It is demanding because many of us tend to live a life focussing on ourselves, satisfying our needs, and seeking self-fulfilment. Therefore, it is not appealing to renounce ourselves. Yet, Jesus invites us to deny ourselves by going beyond ourselves and putting the interests and the needs of others before our own, which implies walking the path of the cross as we die to our selfishness and pride.
 
“Anyone who wants to save his life will lose it; but anyone who loses his life for my sake will find it”. This is the paradox of discipleship. If we want to gain the fullness of life that Jesus offers, we must learn to lose the tendency to live a self-centred life and choose to give ourselves in loving service to others.
 
Reflection question:
What prevents me from renouncing myself for Jesus’ sake?
 
 
Acknowledgment: Reflections are based on “Prayer for Living: The Word of God for Daily Prayer Year C” by Sr Sandra Seow FMVD.