THE CROSS OF CHRIST
Well here we are at the last weekend of August and the youngsters are going back to school. Here in this part of Ireland the kids have been on holiday for the last 2 months and I think at this stage everyone will be happy to get back to the daily routine of school and home life. I met a friend of mine with her grandchild on Thursday and the youngster looked lovely in her new school uniform as she was changing to first year in a new school, how time flies. I remember that this particular girl had her legs in splints when she was born and the doctors thought that she mightn’t walk at all and here she was walking towards me with a big smile on her face.
In our gospel reading for this Sunday we see Jesus telling his disciples that ‘If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me. He also says that to us in the here and now of today, also in the gospel Jesus began to make it clear to his disciples that he was destined to go to Jerusalem and suffer grievously at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes this was a pointer to all that happened on Good Friday.Peter knew that Jesus was the messiah awaited by God’s people, but he did not understand that Jesus would be a suffering messiah a suffering servant. But it did happen to Jesus, and it happens to those who follow him: “If a man wishes to come after me, he must deny his very self (and) take up his cross.”In the first reading Jeremiah had foretold the suffering of those who work for the coming of the kingdom: “All the day I am an object of laughter; everyone mocks me … The word of the Lord has brought me derision and reproach all the day.”
Among all the religious symbols in the world none is more universal than the cross. You see crosses everywhere, on walls, on hillsides, in churches, in houses, in bedrooms, on chains around peoples’ necks, on rings, on ear-rings, on old people, on young people, on believers, and on people who aren’t sure in what they believe. Not everyone can explain what the cross means or why they choose to wear one, but most everyone has an the sense that it is a symbol, perhaps the ultimate symbol, for depth, love, fidelity, and faith. We are told in our gospel reading to deny our very selves and follow Jesus by taking up the crosses that might come our way. It is so easy to say this but with grace, we can do exactly what Jesus asks of us!
With the goal of eternal life as our focus, the grace of god enables difficult things to become not only possible, but easier for us. We can find the life God wants us to live. We can embrace ways to proclaim the Good News in word and deed. Nothing else makes much sense… if we keep our goal in mind. What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit eternal life? The sick the old the sad the young and the old they all have a special need of our prayer. Today we pray for all those who find the burden of the cross they carry too hard to bear and we hold them in prayer. That god will be with them as well as ourselves and help all of us along the road of faith.