This week’s Gospel contains the central message of Jesus asking us to pick up our cross to follow Him. He says “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”
To me this sums up Christianity.
He never said that if we just believe, we would go to Heaven. Or that if we believe, life will be easy and prosperous. No, He said deny yourself, take up the cross and follow Him.
This helps us to explain why life can be so tough but we still carry on. In faith, hope and love.
The idea also extends to teachings on redemptive suffering.
Suffering with a purpose, for God, for others makes sense. Without this higher mission, suffering for the sake of it is pointless.
In reflecting on my own journey and suffering in life, I come to understand how losing a spouse to cancer is indeed a harsh setback and a painful journey to take. But by pressing on, I am redeeming a life for my son.
I am also humbled that by sharing my faith story through the ministry of Landings. There are people who appreciate and benefit from the insights to help them along in their own faith journeys. Different aspects of my story touch different people in different seasons of their own life.
It is a virtuous cycle.
The homilist reminds us not to evade the sufferings in our life. Some men seek flight to wine, women and song when things go wrong. And eventually things get worse by our own undoing. He tells us to embrace our suffering.
But it can only be done with meaning, purpose and love.
So don’t be afraid.
Take up your cross, but with eyes firmly on Jesus, and He will lead the way.