In the Gospel today, Jesus speaks to Peter and his disciples instructing them to take up their crosses. To take up your cross sounds like a difficult thing, doesn’t it? Are we willing to take up our own cross or is there an obstacle in the way?
Life presents us with a variety of crosses, most of which may not be easy to accept. The cross could be an illness, a family issue, finances or even depression. Do we view that cross as a punishment from God or is the cross a part of our lives? Could it be that Jesus is telling us that by accepting that cross we are choosing to live as he taught us?
The reality of being human means that we will suffer, just as we will experience love. But the freedom or truth is that when we choose to carry our cross, Jesus is with us. There’s a paradox in that statement because it implies we lose what we gain, but gain what we lose. Jesus will grace us with strength as we deal with our cross. Even when we are carrying a very heavy cross, Jesus is with us, gifting and gracing us.
There can be obstacles to carrying our crosses. An obstacle can come in so many shapes and sizes. It could be a job that causes us to lose our work-life balance. Or maybe it’s an unhealthy relationship or relationships that steer us away from Christ. Whatever it may be, Christ teaches us that he is waiting for us to push that obstacle aside and choose him again.
Look at Peter, the Rock, upon whom Christ built his Church. Even Peter denied Christ three times and yet Christ forgave him. Peter overcame his obstacles by choosing Christ as his Lord and Savior. To understand that true happiness and freedom can only come by accepting Christ is to put aside our secular obstacles and live with and for Jesus Christ.
To conclude, here’s a beautiful prayer to think about while we all work to rid our lives of obstacles and carry our Cross with Christ:
O my Jesus, I thank you for this cross you have allowed me to carry. Please give me the strength and faith to persevere so that I may bring glory to your name while withstanding the burden of its weight. Thank you for offering me a share in your suffering. I know that you have always been, are now, and ever will be, at my side every step of the way.