Taking Up the Cross

Week of September 13, 2015

We have become very familiar with the invitation of Jesus in this week’s Gospel. We know we are called to take up our cross if we are to follow Him. What does that look like in our eyes? Aristotle once said, “We are what we repeatedly do.” It is easy to look at self-discipline when it gets close to Lent. It is easy to embrace the cross at times when we feel we are being tested. Yet, if we are what we repeatedly do, how do we take up the cross each and every day? The cross is not just for Lent or certain times of pain.

To pick up the cross we must first deny our very selves and surrender to the will of the Father. Jesus, in the garden before He is given the cross, surrenders to the will of the Father. He is filled with anguish but knows that by dying on the cross for us, He will save the world. On His journey with the cross, He finds that inner purpose and embraces all of the pain. We are called to the same journey. We are called to a journey of surrender. Surrendering is not an action of the weak. Surrendering is an action of strength. When one knows that greater good can come from being open to the will of God, we are able to curb our own egos, our own pride and our own need for self worth.

The second part of taking up our cross is denying our very self. Our sense of self loves to rationalize things. Our sense of self longs to protect itself. In the discipline of denying we gain a purity of oneself. We realize we are made by God and for God. Marketing is geared to let the self know what it needs. We never see a commercial for a cross. It is for the car, the fancy clothes, the new medication that will improve your life. The self is bombarded. To deny ourselves is to refrain from listening to pride, to ego or to need.

To be a follower of Jesus, to be a disciple, we must embrace this part of the journey. We must see it as something we do every day. We are what we repeatedly do. To pick up the cross, to deny ourselves means we live for others and for the glory of God. To live for the glory of God means we see each new day as an opportunity to be builders of the Kingdom, never concerned with the cost to ourselves.

In the rectory I have a cross in the chapel of the house that is made from the most incredible wood. The wood is over 600 years old and was found at the bottom of Lake Superior in 1991. It was preserved by the pure and cold water of the lake. I look at it every day. It has persevered, it stayed true. It inspires me. Find a cross and let it become yours. In the cross of Jesus was all of us and our sins, and He carried it for the glory of God.