Sun, 31 March 2019
Sunday of the Veneration of the Cross.
“Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” Matthew 16:24
Christ is talking as if “coming after” or “following” Him is something good. What is that all about? Where is He going? Where is He leading us?
Christ talks about “denying” ourselves. In the next verse He ties that to being willing to die.
This sounds important. We need to get it right.
Great lie: all religions are the same – but the devil himself can appear as an angel of light! (2 Corinthians 11:14).
We need to get this cross thing right.
Is it just about perseverance? Everyone has their own cross to bear? Kind of, but even that needs to be grounded. We aren't just stoics, we are stoics of a certain type.
What is the cross? Pain. But just any pain?
Look to the prototype: we are Christians, and He is our standard. His cross was painful, but it was pain put to a certain use. It was sacrificial. He gave Himself as a sacrifice. All sacrifice is of something valuable, something hard. Pain is like that.
The cross was Christ's sacrifice on behalf of the people and world that He loved.
This gives us enough to work on: taking up our cross means doing things that are hard on behalf of others. It means denying what we might prefer so that others can thrive.
For Christ, that meant leaving the place where He was given the glory and honor that was His due to go live in a place where He would be disrespected, misunderstood, and even tortured; and He did it so that we – the ones He loves – could join Him in eternal glory.
When we voluntarily sacrifice our time, putting up with people who may misunderstand us, who may not value us, and who may never really appreciate what we are doing; and we do it out of a desire for their health and salvation...
Then we are taking up our cross and following Christ into glory.
So be patient when your ego tells you to lash out; be courageous when your instincts tell you to hide; figure out what love requires in each moment – and then dedicate yourself to it. THAT requires listening to the needs of the moment.
That is the cup that our Lord accepted in the Garden of Gethsemene that led to the salvation of the world – and drinking of that cup unites us to Him through His passion on the Cross into everlasting life with all the saints.