August 29, 2017
Jesus tells us to “take up our cross and follow him”. In a warehouse of crosses – which one fits us? How do we see the cross? With the promise of pain? Suffering? When it comes to dealing with suffering, do we face it with passive acceptance or do we accept it with a purpose? That question is always before us. By taking up one’s cross and following Christ it does not indicate that we are passively submitting to oppression, discrimination and abuses in their varied forms. We should be comforted in the knowledge that our own personal sufferings can be given meaning and purpose because we can make them a part of Christ’s redemptive sacrifice. We are one with Christ and His victory is ours to claim.
Whenever one of my former parishioners encountered a difficulty in her life she would use these words “No crown without a cross”. It was her way of saying that life wasn’t always going to be easy, but by staying true to Christ, she believed that heaven would await her.
The cross is made up of 2 pieces – an intersection or crossroads. Giving us choices. Do we take the road less travelled? Our choices are not necessarily choosing good over evil but rather the difference between making a “good” choice or a “better” choice. Let’s take the example of a cross of inconvenience - we are willing to pray for someone but do nothing beyond that. Is there someone close to you that is suffering from a debilitating illness – you pray for them – but don’t reach out to them. An important exam is coming up – you pray you will do well – but don’t make the effort to study. A friend is going through a difficult time in their life – you pray for them – but you won’t pick up the phone and call them, take time to visit or bring them a home cooked meal or a special treat you know they would enjoy. What daily choices can we make that will make a difference? By carrying one another’s cross we fulfil the love of God. What cross(es) have you been called to carry? What has helped you to carry your cross(es)?
The cross – in one form or another – is a part of the life of every Christian.
The following is taken from a homily by Mark Link, S.J.
Let’s close with a moving testimony
To the truth of Jesus’ promise
That he will give life to those
Who pick up their cross and follow him.
This prayer, written in the form of a poem,
Was found in the pocket of a dead Confederate soldier:
“I asked for health,
That I might do greater things;
I was given infirmity,
That I might do better things….
I asked for riches, that I might be happy;
I was given poverty, that I might be wise…
I asked for power,
That I might have the praise of men;
I was given weakness,
That I might feel the need of God….
I asked for all things, that I might enjoy life;
I was given life,
That I might enjoy all things…
I got nothing I asked for,
But everything I hoped for.
Almost despite myself,
My unspoken prayers were answered.
I am among all men most richly blessed.”