Picking Up Our Crosses

September 16, 2018

The journey of Jesus is never easy.  The footsteps of Jesus lead us to Calvary and the cross.  To pick up our cross we must be willing to understand its value. When Jesus hung on the cross, it was like no other execution.  When Jesus offered His body on the cross, it was unlike any other capital punishment killing.  On this day, in this place, history changed.  It was a compelling moment.  The Jewish leaders were concerned about its significance and they rallied with their new found allies, the Romans, to make sure a guard was placed at the tomb.  They made sure He was put to death so the story would end, just like it did for so many who were executed by crucifixion.  Jesus understood the significance of the cross.  He understood its powerful surrender.  He understood that the moment would change everything and when His physical body had no more left to give, His divinity would pay the price for all sin.

We stand now at the path and we are invited to know the significance of the cross, as well as the significance of our own crosses that we are given to carry.  How do we define pain in our lives?  What causes the most pain? Is the worst pain physical or psychological?  What causes the most humiliation—our past or what we are going through now?  What do we find most difficult to forgive—the sins we have committed or the pain and sin inflicted upon us?  All of these answers lead us to how it is we understand the significance of the cross and how we embrace it.  There is deep significance as to how we hold, carry and move with our cross.  It says everything about our spirituality.  The cross calls for surrender, even when our pride longs for something else. The cross calls for sacrifice, even when our ego grasps to never let go.  The cross leads to forgiveness, even when the pain felt wants revenge.

Life-changing is this cross we are asked to pick up and carry.  The greatest hardships are not always the ones that can inflict pain from the outside.  The greatest crosses we carry are usually the struggles of good and evil within us.  The greatest cross we carry is the reality of forgiving ourselves after God, through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, has absolved us from our sins.  The greatest cross we carry is to love our enemies and to forgive family members and spouses and the ones closest to us, even when we feel disrespected.

The cross is of the greatest significance when we truly carry it.  When we truly connect with Jesus in the deepest way, we know it is the only way and He is about way more than just the physical burdens we carry. To be a follower is to embrace deeply the more painful cross that calls us to surrender, sacrifice and forgiveness.

Reverend John J. Ouper