“Whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me.”

(Submitted to my work parish as the bulletin letter for this weekend.  The quote above is from v. 38 of today’s Gospel reading [Mt 10:37-42])

The Gospel is challenging, isn’t it?  Life is full of trials.  We do not need to be seeking crosses – they will find us.  How we deal with the challenges that come our way is what is important.  Do we behave as Christ who silently and uncomplainingly bore scorn, abuse, and finally a brutal passion and death?  If it was good enough for the Son of God, then who are we to deny the difficulties that come our way?  Can we ask that our burden be relieved or lifted?  Of course!  Jesus did as much in the Garden of Gethsemane.  Let’s recall His words:

My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you will. (Matt 26:39)

Here, Jesus echoes the words of the Lord’s Prayer, asking of the Father that “thy will be done” (Matt 6:10).  Take the cup of suffering away only if it is your will, Lord.  If you can incorporate this verse of Scripture into the prayers you can muster in the depths of your pain, you are doing well.  God does not leave us alone in our troubles but accompanies us the entire way.  A God who is Love (see 1 John 4:8) would never, could never, abandon us.

And if you say that even Jesus felt abandoned on the cross (“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” – Matt 27:46) just read the rest of Psalm 22 that He began quoting, especially noting verse 25:

For he has not spurned or disdained

the misery of this poor wretch,

Did not turn away from me,

but heard me when I cried out.

Taking up our crosses in imitation of Christ is a condition of being worthy of Jesus.  Let us not squander these opportunities, so that one day we will hear these glorious words:

Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.  (Matt 25:34)

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