Isn't it so true that many, if not all of us, want to go about life without the Cross! After all, Jesus is Risen! Amen, right? Yes, indeed He is Risen. Nevertheless, we must not forget that the Resurrection is only part of the story. Yes, it is essential and the culminating moment. Yet, it remains incomplete without the other elements of the Paschal Mystery, without the Suffering and Death. We have reflected with the help of the Gospels, a major part of Jesus' suffering was the Cross. It is through the Cross that His death came to pass. Instead of abandoning the Cross, Jesus chose to transform it and give to it a whole new meaning. His embrace and death on the Cross brought about redemption and the forgiveness of our sins. Something we could never do on our own nor something we could have ever earned.
So it is in our gratitude we make the choice to live as disciples. To live as His disciples is not to pick and choose what is convenient nor to run away from the Cross because Jesus embraced it for us! Jesus never told his disciples He would carry the Cross so that they need not. Quite the opposite, Jesus commanded his disciples to take up their cross. "If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his Cross daily and follow me" (Luke 9:23). Jesus challenges you and me, his disciples to take up our cross daily. It is not easy to take up the cross daily. In so attempting we must not reduce the Cross to one of our choosing nor a Cross we think fits us best. No, this is not the answer. As disciples we take up the Cross that is given to us. Just like Jesus who was given His Cross.
Be Not Afraid. The Good Shepherd does not abandon His sheep. It is Jesus who helps us to embrace it just as did He. It is Jesus who helps us to carry it when it gets heavy and we want to let it go. It is Jesus who gives new meaning in the suffering endured while with the Cross. It is Jesus who gives us new life in the pain.
One day each of us will stand before God. What Cross will we place before God? Will we even have a Cross to present? Until that day, Jesus commands us to follow His example. And along the way Jesus gives us gifts. Those gifts come only when we embrace the Cross. His gifts are glimpses of new life that come to us through those mini paschal mystery moments in our lives. Those glimpses are when we embrace the Cross, when we find meaning in the suffering, and when we allow "mini deaths" to occur now so as to better equip us and prepare us for the final death, our exit from this world into the next.
Until then, keep taking up your Cross, keep walking, keep searching for meaning in the suffering and pain, and keep believing that Jesus will give you glimpses of new life!