You ever have one of those experiences where you go somewhere and hear a sermon or talk and you know God arranged it “just for you?” A week ago Monday I had one of those experiences.
As I went about my morning I mulled over a situation in my life that is less than appealing and I asked God “why?” Upon further reflection, I felt like He was telling me it was one of those “crosses” that Jesus talks about in Matthew 16:24 when he says we are to “pick up our cross and follow after Him.” Now I wish I could say I reached this conclusion and found great peace of mind but that wasn’t the case. No, it was more like a sad resignation laced with some “what can I do to change this situation so that I can move past it?”
So, with this resignation I went to Mass to spend time some undistracted quiet time with Jesus. As I knelt before the cross and poured my heart out to Him, I asked Him to speak to me. And He did…through the priest and his homily.
Strange thing is, Fr. McCauley’s homily was not based on any of the scripture readings for that day. Instead he talked about picking up our cross and following Jesus. He talked about stewing over the cross we must bear versus asking God to reveal what He wants to do within you as you pick up this cross and deny yourself (die to yourself). When he got to this point in his homily I literally looked around the room and wondered if I was the only person there. His homily had nothing to do with the gospel reading and everything to do with me (cause, afterall, it’s all about me, right :-). Whether he realized it or not, Fr. McCauley had me pegged. I’d most definitely been “stewing” over my cross.
Here’s what he said next:
Jesus said, ‘pick up your cross, deny yourself and come follow after to me.’ In other words, you and I must carry our cross like Jesus carried His. We must do it His way and not our own way.
It was the reminder and truth I needed to hear. It’s not enough to just pick up my cross. I must pick it up and carry it in the manner in which Jesus carried His cross. Jesus didn’t complain as He carried his cross. He didn’t try to explain and justify Himself. He didn’t try to run and escape God’s plan. And he didn’t demand that God change his circumstances. No, instead He prayed, “not my will Lord, but yours be done.”
Ok, this is not a new “teaching” for me. In fact, it’s one of those repeat lessons. I think this is something like lesson #6, 241 in the “Way of the Cross.” Someday I might get it. Then again, maybe it’s not something you ever fully “get” until the journey is over.
Today though, moment by moment and by His grace, I will deny myself, pick up my cross and carry it like Jesus: Fully surrendered and fully trusting Father.