Taking Up Your Cross

02-07-2021Letter from the PastorFr. Don Kline, V.F.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I wanted to offer some perspective for all who are enduring the death of a loved one, the pandemic, political chaos, unstable economy, family drama or job loss. Those are just a few of the possible hardships you may find yourself trying to navigate!

Our perspectives and ability to deal with our current struggles vary. A brother priest prophetically told me recently that, “This is the cross! Are you going to carry it or not?” Jesus also said that, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.’

We all have crosses. God asks us to embrace physical, spiritual and psychological suffering that come from living in this fallen world. It can range from sickness to religious persecution to financial hardships. It can be a suicide or a still born baby or the pain of a broken relationship or losing a job. Whatever its source, we all have crosses.

Before you embrace any cross, you can ask Our Lord to remove it. Jesus told us to carry our crosses. But He also removed crosses out of compassion. But why does God remove some crosses from some people but leaves some cross or crosses for you to carry? This is the mystery of suffering, most especially when faithful people suffer while godless people might not.

St. Paul spoke of a “thorn in the flesh.” Although we don’t know what it was, he asked Our Lord to take it away three times. Even Jesus prayed in the garden just before He was arrested. Yet neither Jesus nor St. Paul were spared.

When a cross appears, ask Our Lord to remove it. Cry out like the blind beggar Bartimaeus: “Jesus, son of David, have pity on me!” But what if the cross stays? Well, God gives us divine grace to embrace our crosses. Jesus once told St. Paul: “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.”

Embracing a cross with God’s grace will lead us to depend on God more. And rather than dwell on our own sufferings, we find ourselves moved with compassion for other who suffer. In short, we become more like Jesus because we are better equipped to help others to carry their cross.

This is the cross’ paradox. We accept suffering not because we like it. We accept the crosses to grow closer to Jesus and give Him glory through them. The Holy Spirit is at the heart of human suffering and transforms our spiritual life drawing us closer to the Father and therefore closer to heaven.

If you have been asked to carry a cross this year, pray for resolution. If the cross remains, ask Jesus for his grace to help you embrace it. As John Paul said, “All suffering is evil. It will not be a part of the new Jerusalem when Jesus comes again. But God is able to bring good—even great blessings—out of this evil.”

Take a moment now to bless everyone you know who is carrying a cross. Ask Jesus to send grace to them to bring them his peace!