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Friends, in today’s Gospel, the Lord lays out the conditions for discipleship. He makes this demand: “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.”

Notice please that this is not simply a question of accepting suffering that happens to befall one. This is not simply a Stoic resignation. Jesus is telling us actively to take up our crosses, to seek them out, to carry them as he willingly carried his. What Jesus did on the cross was bear the burden of the world’s sin. He bore others’ burdens in love. And this is what we must do: actively, proactively seek out ways to lighten other people’s loads.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer commented that when the Lord summons a person to discipleship, he calls him to come and die. When the blind Bartimaeus received his sight, at the midpoint of the Gospel of Mark, he followed Jesus up the road that would lead to Calvary. The way of the Christian life begins and ends with the man who is God dying on a cross.