August 30, 2020
Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.”
If we think of Jesus’ own literal taking up of His cross, we notice that He carried His cross with a burning passion and a clear, defined purpose, to achieve a powerful outcome. His final words on the cross, “It is finished”, were not spoken in relief of suffering ended, nor in resignation to his bodily death. Those words were a victory cry, Jesus proclaiming to all of creation that death had been conquered and sin defeated!
Today’s gospel gives us a great opportunity to reflect on what it means for us to follow our Lord’s example as we take up our crosses, and consider how our crosses can be borne.
Are we sure that the crosses we are bearing are the right ones? Are our crosses those God is asking us to bear, or crosses that we have made for ourselves? And how do we distinguish between them?
Imagine a relationship with a friend or family member that has turned sour. Is the loss of that relationship the cross to be borne? Perhaps instead, it is the effort to forgive and be forgiven, to reconcile, and to do everything in one’s power to rebuild that broken relationship that more closely follows Christ’s footsteps at Calvary.
Are we asked to bear bullying at school or work, or is the true cross instead the struggle to push back against such dehumanizing behavior, on others’ behalf as well as our own?
In these crazy times, many of us bear the load of fear and anxiety. Those are serious crosses that must be carried. Can we open ourselves up to accompaniment and allow ourselves to depend on others to help us overcome such crosses? Even Jesus had Simon’s help at Calvary. We cannot be too proud or too humble to ask for help as we attempt to take up our crosses and follow Him!
– Bill Merlock