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Embracing the Cross
Thursday after Ash Wednesday
Jesus said to his disciples: “The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised. Then he said to all, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. What profit is there for one to gain the whole world yet lose or forfeit himself?”
Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me to see your loving hand at work with me today. Draw me close when I am tempted to flee from your providential plan.
- The Royal Road of the Cross: “There will always be many who love Christ’s heavenly kingdom, but few who will bear his cross.” Thus, Thomas à Kempis began his famous chapter on the royal road of the cross, the path trod by Christ our King. This was the road Our Lord took to glory, and our own journey to his kingdom must necessarily cover the same ground. We have just begun Lent—may this be a time that we fix our gaze on the cross, not to flinch, but to be inspired.
- Offering Up Daily Crosses: When we look at Jesus on the cross, we see a mass of horrific human suffering. Even more astounding, as the incarnate Son of God, he was undergoing existential humiliation that we cannot fathom. And yet, Jesus deigned to call what we undergo “daily crosses.” They are nothing compared to his, but he draws us to himself so that we can unite our sufferings with his. Pope Emeritus Benedict wrote about this in Spe Salvi: “There used to be a form of devotion…that included the idea of “offering up” the minor daily hardships that continually strike at us like irritating “jabs,” thereby giving them a meaning. .. Those who did so were convinced that they could insert these little annoyances into Christ’s great “com-passion” so that they somehow became part of the treasury of compassion so greatly needed by the human race. In this way, even the small inconveniences of daily life could acquire meaning and contribute to the economy of good and of human love. Maybe we should consider whether it might be judicious to revive this practice ourselves.”
- Spiritual Costs-Benefits Analysis: Like good investors, we need to weigh the cost of an expenditure against the benefits we hope to attain from it. Jesus himself offered some good analysis: “What profit is there for one to gain the whole world yet lose or forfeit himself?” Gaining the world does not seem like such a bargain under that optic. How about embracing the cross? When Jesus looked at the cross, the joy of seeing the vast multitude of souls that would be saved through it made him “despise its shame” (cf. Hebrews 12:2). Can we try to see our daily crosses, the “irritating jabs” against that panoramic view of salvation history?
Conversing with Christ: Lord Jesus, there is no other road to heaven than the royal road of your cross. Help me to carry mine! At times, its weight can push me down to the ground. But I know that with your help I can put aside my fears, my impatience, and my complaints, to follow you with joy for the salvation of many souls.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace when I perceive a cross I will stifle my whining and offer it to Jesus with love for my family.
For Further Reflection: “Everything is a reminder of the Cross. We ourselves are made in the shape of a cross” (St. John Vianney).
Written by Father Steven Reilly, LC.
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