Sunday, June 26, 2005
Cross Bearing  

In today's Gospel reading from St. Matthew, Jesus states, "and whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me." (10:38) This is the first time in Matthew's Gospel that Jesus uses the word cross. It is said in the context of our Lord's instructions to the Twelve whom He is sending "to drive [unclean spirits} out and to cure every disease and every illness" (10:1).

What is the cross, but the will of God? It was the Father's will that His Son suffer and die on the cross. When Christ asked His disciples to take up the cross (daily, in St. Luke's account) and follow Him, He was asking His disciples to do God's will. In verse 39, He continues, "Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it."

The cross in the First Century was an ignominious punishment. It was primarily used to punish those who rebelled against the Romans. It would be as if Christ asked us to take up our electric chairs and follow him. We do not think of "respectable" people being put to death via the electric chair. Yet this is Christ's call to us: to want to follow Him out of love such that we would be willing to be fools for Christ who die seemingly disrespectful deaths.

Also, the context of Christ's call makes it clear that it is part of His mission. In St. Matthew's Gospel, Jesus makes this statement as part of His instructions to the Twelve whom He has just selected and is sending out to the lost sheep of Israel (10:1-6). By choosing twelve men, Jesus is making it clear that He is reconstituting Israel's twelve tribes who had been scattered. The Church is that reconstitution of Israel, and the Twelve and their successors are the leaders of this new Israel.

What does that mean for us? I believe that to do God's will is a moment-by-moment attempt to love God. He wants us to spend every moment doing exactly what is His Will. This is not a puppeteer trying to control a puppet. It is like a father who wants his child doing what is right and best for them at all times. There are not times that a good father wants his child to do something that is wrong. It is the same with our God who is Infinite Love. Doing His will is part of a relationship in which we learn from Him what His will is and we strive to do it even in the smallest things, such as writing a comment or a post.

Neither is it a salvation by works idea. Again, in the idea of a loving relationship, the child who loves his parent seeks to imitate the parent. If the child knows he is loved, he has the freedom to do what is right and even fail in doing what is right without fear of not being loved. However, out of love, the child wants to amend what is wrong and do the right thing. The love of the relationship is what drives the child to do what is right.

By telling us it is a cross, Jesus is merely making it very clear how difficult it really is to lose our life and for Him and the Gospel. However, as others have noted, He gives us the grace to do it, and it is only be His grace that we can do it.

Posted by David at 8:45 AM  |  Comments (0)  | Link


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