24 Jesus said to his disciples: If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
Chrysostom: He does not speak of it as compulsory. . . . He rather attracted them; for he who leaves his auditor at liberty, attracts him the more; whereas he that uses violence oftentimes hinders him.
And He proposes this doctrine, not to His disciples only, but in common to the whole world, saying, “If any man will.”
For His sake you are to endure all, and to learn His other virtues; for this is to follow Christ aright, to be diligent in the practice of virtues, and to suffer all things for His sake.
Gregory: He denies himself whosoever is changed for the better, and begins to be what he was not, and ceases to be what he was.
He also denies himself, who having trode under foot the risings of pride, shews himself in the eyes of God to be estranged from himself.
There are two ways of taking our cross; when the body is afflicted by abstinence, or when the heart is pained by compassion for another. Forasmuch as our very virtues are beset with faults, we must declare that vainglory sometimes attends abstinence of flesh, for the emaciated body and pale countenance betray this high virtue to the praise of the world. Compassion again is sometimes attended by a false affection, which is hereby led to be consenting unto sin; to shut out these, He adds, “and follow me.”
Origen: Though a man may seem to keep from sin, yet if he does not believe in the cross of Christ, he cannot be said to be crucified with Christ; whence it follows, “And take up his cross.”
Hilary: We are to follow our Lord by taking up the cross of His passion; and if not in deed, yet in will, bear Him company.
Scripture from the Douay-Rheims Bible. Commentary from St. Thomas Aquinas, Catena Aurea, Vol. I (London: Rivington, 1842).