Take Up Your Cross
Jesus said to his disciples; Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. – Matthew 16:24
As Christians, it is our deepest desire to follow Jesus. But, in reality, this involves much more than a feeling, and, yes, much more than a matter of simply following a set of rules. To follow Jesus in this world, in our individual lives, means that we must be willing to suffer, to take the pains that will come our way for doing God’s will in this fallen world that we share with the rest of humanity. It means that we must struggle to develop the virtue of humility so that we can see the divine wisdom of putting others before ourselves. To follow Jesus in this world is to finally accept that, in loving as Jesus did with our very lives we, too, may be despised, rejected and even “crucified” by those who have forgotten God, or worse, turned pridefully away from him.
We do not do this for a reward. We do not do this because we want to be praised for our courage. We do this simply because we love Jesus, because we know that His way is the only way through which we can live a truly meaningful, human life. Though this “picking up of our crosses” can be a frightening thought, we believe that when we do it, we do not do it alone. We can have the confidence that Jesus, in his Holy Spirit, will walk with us, will inspire us with grace and ever deepening faith. Let us take those tentative steps, then, in good faith. He is, after all, Emmanuel, God with us. In denying ourselves, and in picking up our crosses, in Jesus’ name, we will discover the true depth and meaning of life. In Jesus’ name, we pray.