Sunday, September 17, 2006

Picking Up Your Cross

Today's Gospel said: He summoned the crowd with his disciples and said to them,
“Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself,
take up his cross, and follow me.
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake
and that of the gospel will save it.”

What does it mean to "pick up your cross"? Tonite at mass, Fr. said that it means to accept suffering as a part of life and to look to Jesus to get you through it. That seems to be a common thought, but its one I question. Most suffering in life is not something we choose in any sense of the word. Where is the self-denial in accepting what we cannot change? If I get cancer, is that a cross? How is the way I deal with it any differnt from the way a non-Christian (or even anti-religious) person deals with it? Yes, I turn to God in prayer, but at the same time, I'm doing the same things as the other guy--trying to get rid of the cancer. Personally, I don't think things I have no choice about are crosses.

I think a cross is something that will bring me pain if I choose to pick it up--but which I don't have to choose. It is the choice to remain faithful to the Church's teaching on contraception, even if it is difficult for me. It is the choice to carry a handicapped or fatally ill fetus to term, rather than to do the sensible thing and abort. It is the choice to tell my daughter that she can't wear that, even if all the other kids are, because it is immodest. It is the choice to speak up (and be branded a fanatic or prude) when someone is telling dirty or ethnic jokes. It is making the choice not to tell the Islamic captors that I'll pray to Allah. Most of these choices aren't near so dramatic as His cross, nor so painful--but many of them can be very hard for us to make.

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