V/. We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you.
A reading from the Gospel according to Luke 23:26
As they led him away, they seized one Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and laid on him the cross, to carry it behind Jesus.
Jesus must have been completely exhausted and so the soldiers took the first unlucky person they could find and told him to carry the cross. So too, in everyday life, the cross, in many different forms – whether as sickness or a serious accident, the death of a loved one or the loss of work – falls upon us, often unexpectedly. We see in this only a stroke of bad luck, or at worst, a tragedy.
Jesus, however, said to his disciples, “if any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Mt 16:24). These are not easy words; in fact, as far as real life is concerned, they are the most difficult words in the entire Gospel. Our whole being, everything within us, rebels against these words.
Jesus, however, goes on to say, “For whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Mt 16:25). Let us stop for a moment and reflect on the words: “for my sake”. Here we see the very essence of Jesus’ claim, his self-awareness and the demands he makes of us. Jesus is at the heart of everything, he is the Son of God who is one with God the Father (cf. Jn 10:30), he is the one Saviour (cf. Acts 4:12).
In effect, what seemed at first to be merely a stroke of bad luck or a tragedy not infrequently is shown to be a door which opens in our lives, leading to a greater good. But it is not always like this: many times, in this world, tragedies remain simply painful failures. Here again Jesus has something to tell us: after the cross, he rose from the dead, and he rose as the firstborn among many brethren (cf. Rom 8:29; 1Cor 15:20). His cross can not be separated from his resurrection. Only by believing in the resurrection can we meaningfully advance along the way of the cross.
Pater noster, qui es in cælis:
Quis est homo qui non fleret,
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