Jesus then said to his disciples: “If a man wishes to come after me, he must deny his very self, take up his cross, and begin to follow in my footsteps. Whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
God is so very good to us, especially when He shows us that all those seemingly meaningless moments within the grind and monotony of worldly ways are actually the loving splinters of His blessed Cross and the purifying thorns of the crown violently thrust down upon His gentle head. What a gift!
For if we are to die daily, a cross is needed, and oh how ingenious is our Lord in designing new crosses!
Enough then of the nonsense of complaining! No, stand on your head, let God flip you over so that the world thinks you are upside down. Yes, embrace your cross, kiss it, sleep on it, sleep the sleep of death upon it—so that your soul with Christ’s may truly be entrusted into the hands of the Father, your will completely abandoned into God’s perfect providence. For how can we be purely passive in His perfect presence when we continue to restlessly ask Him to remove His loving embrace?
Yes, it is! His cross for you, the cross He gives to you—your cross—is an embrace. That is exactly what it is: a hug, a kiss, a warm bed to rest within, a cradle in which to lay—a cradle and a cross in which lies an infant Christ, the Divine Word made flesh once again!
Praise God for His mercy, praise God for all that we do not understand and need not understand, for His gift of Faith is all we need! Believe, and if you doubt, ask, ask the creator of everything for more faith. It truly is simple, as simple as a manger, as simple as a small family of three living in an out of the way place, as simple as two old trunks of a tree crisscrossed and wedged between a few uncut stones.
Never, never let the world convince you that what is in reality a purifying gift—the cross as made manifest so often and in so many “little” ways—is anything other than a gift. For to follow Christ without a cross is to deny His great love for us—for His love is so grand that not only did He die for us but that He also wants us to cooperate, to participate, to share, to “co-labor” in His awesome work of salvation! And we do so by dying with Him. In pure union with Him.
It is all too much, too much love to comprehend. Oh faith, more faith, let us receive You, Christ Jesus, and may we fully partake in what You ceaselessly offer: Your Divine Nature.
“The Spirit himself gives witness with our spirit that we are children of God. But if we are children, we are heirs as well: heirs of God, heirs with Christ, if only we suffer with him so as to be glorified with him.”
O Crucified Love, crucify me with Your love!
(Friday Thoughts is a new series to appear every Friday, written by various members of the extended Passionist community.)