'If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross every day and follow me”
On an intellectual level, I understand this quote. It makes sense. We are Christ's followers, so we need to imitate Him in our actions. No servant is greater than the master. He is the one we have chosen to follow and to imitate. Yet why does my inner spirit rebel against this teaching? Why is it so difficult to accept? Suffering is portrayed by our society as something quite evil and to be avoided at all costs and we have been raised in a culture which values sensual pleasure as the ultimate achievement, as something we all deserve -- the reward for our daily endeavors. Also, my human nature prefers that which is comfortable, easy, and does not require effort.
The pain Christ felt was so much more than what we endure. He had the perfect body and was more sensitive to pain and suffering than we are. As part of His human nature, He endured fear of suffering -- just as we do -- and public disgrace.
What is the cross in our lives that we must take up daily?
1. The everyday duties that we are required to perform to carry out our vocations in life. For mothers and homemakers, that involves such duties as: washing the dirty diapers, consoling the sick child in the middle of the night, cooking meals, educating the children in the faith, etc.
2. Loving our brothers and sisters and putting up with their weaknesses. Every spouse has a major cross in life in marriage, which is his/her partner and enduring that partner's weaknesses. To daily love that partner, despite their weaknesses, and to support that person physically, spiritually, and emotionally is one way of taking up our cross daily.
3. Trusting the Lord in our insecurities as we face the ordinary trials of life is another way of carrying our cross daily. Many of us live with chronic illnesses, poverty, unemployment, daily work stresses. When we unite these trials with those of Our Lord's sufferings on the cross, many graces will be poured out and miracles can result.
Let us love God and one another this Lent by denying ourselves and taking up our daily crosses with loving and joyful hearts.
"As Lent is the time for greater love, listen to Jesus' thirst...'Repent and believe' Jesus tells us. What are we to repent? Our indifference, our hardness of heart. What are we to believe? Jesus thirsts even now, in your heart and in the poor -- He knows your weakness. He wants only your love, wants only the chance to love you." ~ MotherTeresa