by Sarah Brock
AM Psalm 80 PM Psalm 77, 79
Deuteronomy 8:1-10; James 1:1-15;
It’s an important part of my routine each morning, as I prepare for the day to come, to select a cross to wear. The process of choosing is a careful one. Which one will best suit the day ahead? A larger one on days I want to feel it’s weight around my neck. One that is smaller, less in your face, for my secular workplace where I interact with individuals of many different faiths. Some days, it’s colorful or sparkly. Often on days that will be emotionally challenging, it’s the cross that hangs from my prayer beads.
And, yet, I’m pretty sure that when Jesus invites me to take up my cross daily, this isn’t quite what he means.
If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.
Jesus is inviting his followers to take up their cross, not to take up his cross. He is inviting each of us to identify and take up our own cross. But, where to begin?
You may feel the weight of suffering in your life. Perhaps a result of your economic status, gender identity, sexuality, or any number of circumstances. But, the suffering of Jesus, the cross of Jesus, is not a result of nature or fate. Jesus actively takes on suffering. He actively takes up his cross. He is not advocating for passive suffering or patience and submission to fate. Rather, he takes on suffering as a result of his political stance; the way in which he challenges standard and rigid interpretations of the law. Jesus sets out for Jerusalem himself.
Not only does Jesus actively take up his cross, it is twofold: suffering and rejection. Suffering often arouses compassion and pity. However combined with rejection, Jesus suffers and dies completely alone. Even feeling abandoned by God, his father.
So, where does this leave us? How are we to take up our own crosses daily?
Given Jesus’ example, I can’t imagine that he is inviting us to sit passively or patiently with the suffering we find in our own lives. I believe he is summoning us to action. Perhaps, you’ve already discerned your cross. Or, maybe you’re just beginning to consider how you might follow Jesus. Either way, it’s in the following that I find comfort in this invitation take up my cross, to take up suffering. For while Jesus endured both suffering and rejection, his going before means that we will not carry our crosses alone. In following, we are assured that Jesus suffers with us. Jesus bears the weight along with us.
Tomorrow I’ll once again choose a cross to wear. Then, with God, I’ll begin to take up my cross.
Sarah Brock is becoming a postulant for holy orders in the Diocese of Massachusetts and lives in Boston.
Image Credit: My own.