Taking Up The Cross: A Reflection on Fr. Gerard`s Homily By:C.C.
"To take up the cross means that we are under the cross and not on top of it. It is bigger than we are that is why we cannot cast it aside but must be under it and bear it and live with it. This is where, we drop the ball. We see obstacles and not crosses. This is not totally untrue. There are things we can and should overcome. It does become untrue when we look at life as one obstacle course where we go from triumph to triumph. Our very language bears out this gospel of success. ‘I’ve got a handle on it’ or ‘I’ve got it under control’ or “I’m on top of it, don’t worry’ or ‘I think I have it beat’. If all we have are obstacles then we are in control and if we do not make it, it is because we have not tried hard enough or worked smart as they say. I wonder if we look closer we would not find the cross hidden away in such lives by compensations, denial or rationalizations or the other unconscious defense mechanisms
But the cross means that we do not have control. There is a point of suffering such that we cannot get our arms around it. We cannot understand it. If we could wrap our minds around it, it would cease to be the cross. That is why we are always under it. We have to bear it and take it up. Suffering is the point of failure in our lives. It can lead to despair or it could lead to life. We could push it away and pretend that we are in charge and finally end up in hopelessness when the lies and denials fail. Or we can welcome the stranger we cannot understand and take up the cross with the Lord and find life." (Abbot Fr. Gerard D'Souza- Abbey of the Genesee)
In reflection of today's Gospel I was very pleased to come across this homily shared by Fr. Gerard from one of my favorite places to retreat (The Abbey of Genesee).These words about the cross resonated deeply with me today and I feel that they can speak to each one of us as we seek to identify, understand, and accept the cross within our own lives.
There is something about the cross that leaves us uncomfortable. To feel the weight of something we do not have control over or quite understand leads us to feel vulnerable and out of control. We often forget the message and promise of our Lord that we hear today when we are faced with these circumstances. As Fr. Gerard points out we can be led to despair or we can be led to life.The choice in face of the cross is ours. It is here we make an act of will that consequently determines where we will be led. Jesus tells us in today's Gospel that "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."(Matthew16:24-25). As followers of Christ we are aware that to take up our cross daily is to persevere throughout our struggles and challenges being aware that our Lord helps us to carry our burden. We can potentially feel most conquered and most defeated when we try and remain in this place of being 'in charge' and 'on top of it' opposed to surrendering completely to our incapability and our great need for the help of our Lord to lead us toward life.
Our Lord did not present us with the cross to burden us, to weigh us down, or to lead us toward despair and hopelessness. He took the cross so that we may have life and know it in the fullness of eternity. Let us take up our cross daily with faith in our Lord to lead us to life. May we persevere in our journey remaining in the joy of our Lord by seeing even the most difficult of sufferings as a 'kiss from the cross'. Let us offer all things to Him in faith. If we seek to follow our Lord and grow in holiness we must strive to also embrace everything with faith, hope, and trust. Let us wake each new day with thanksgiving to our Lord and the knowledge that He is present with us in the face of our cross and our biggest struggle.(C.C.)