Take Up Your Cross

I doubt that anyone reading this would plan ‘salvation’ in just the way that Jesus offers it to us. Our instinct is for a Saviour, great and glorious, that comes and takes from us our suffering, especially innocent, undeserved and useless suffering. We can accept, maybe grudgingly, pain we deserve because of our actions but the rest, especially of the weak and innocent, we find scandalous to watch, and incomprehensible to undergo.

In the salvation Jesus offers, the truly Innocent One accepts a shameful and ignominious death, rejected and abused by the people he loved so much. Peter well expressed our revulsion with such a way of salvation: ‘God forbid!’ But Jesus told him to get behind him and follow like a disciple. Jesus turned, faced and accepted his cross, so, as his disciples, we too must face the cross in our life. As we cling to our cross and bleed, our strength and consolation is that God, in the weakness of our humanity has gone before us making this painful, difficult, incomprehensible suffering the path to the fullness of divine life. We do not understand this but as we accept and undergo this path, some intimations of God’s wisdom are given to us: that God’s love and presence are revealed here; that salvation is offered as a free, undeserved gift to all; that God’s grace will work powerfully through the experience of weakness.

But that understanding comes later, after we have accepted our cross and walked with our Saviour God. In the beginning, in our pain and confusion, we remain faithful to our cross because Jesus remains faithful to us.

Adapted from Renew International Prayer Time Year A

Take Up Your Cross

livemoreParents do not wish bad things to happen to their children. Good business people do not want the economy to go sour. Healthy people do not want illness. We don’t want it to rain on our picnic! We have a natural instinct to avoid what we perceive as bad for us. We want good things in life.
Yet we hear in this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus telling us to act contrary to our human instincts! He is telling us to lose our life; to deny ourselves; to take up the cross! No wonder Peter rebukes him. Jesus teaches his disciples to let go of the old self so a new self can be given. Jesus’ followers must deny themselves, let go of self-will, human way of thinking in order to find Life. And it will take a lifetime to embrace this new Life.
The challenge is to let go so God can lead us. We are called to surrender ourselves. This is not without cost to us: lose our impatience with others; lose our insistence on having our own way; lose our desire to be comfortable with the familiar to move us toward new Life. In all of these and many other we are allowing God to refashion us into new selves imbued with new Life in Christ.