TAKE UP YOUR CROSS AND FOLLOW ME
For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.” (1 Corinthians 1:18-19 NRSV).
Many people look at the cross and only see the excruciating agony Christ went through for the salvation of mankind. Hence, many are not willing to take up their cross daily and journey with Christ. They pray not to experience any cross in their life’s pilgrimage. And anyone who prays same for them, they are quick to say “Amen” to such prayer.
Here is a pretty but funny story of a church member who falls into this category of believers. In preparation for the commemoration of Good Friday, a Priest enlisted some men to carry the cross through the Fourteen Stations of the Cross. One of the men went to see the Priest after Mass and said, “You are calling me to carry a cross. I am already carrying one at home.” When the Priest queried the man, he discovered that the cross the man was referring to is his own wife. We all laughed over the amazing story.
Good Friday is a day Christ experienced suffering many human beings consider unbearable. This encompasses His rejection, scourging, crowning with thorns, denial, carrying of the heavy wooden cross, crucifixion, mockery, piercing with a lance, stripping, seeming abandonment by His heavenly Father, death, and finally, enclosure in the sepulchre. These are unacceptable pains for many, and thus the cross is rejected.
Eternal life will not come on a platter of gold. –Father Gabriel Amolegbe
We all have to walk in the footsteps of Christ with our cross to enjoy eternal life (See Philippians 2:12-13; Romans 8:16-17). Beloved, before Christ shouldered the cross and embarked on the Calvary journey, He did call His followers to journey with Him with their own cross:
Then Jesus told His disciples, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow Me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for My sake will find it. For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life? For the Son of Man is to come with His angels in the glory of His Father, and then He will repay everyone for what has been done.” (Matthew 16:24-27).
His message above touched on reward (eternal life or eternal damnation) on judgment day. In Matthew 25:31-46, Jesus revealed that judgment will be centred on service and love. And when His death was imminent, He gave His disciples a practical example of service and love by washing their feet but left with the significance of this illustration:
After He had washed their feet, had put on His robe, and had returned to the table, He said to them. “Do you know what I have done to you? You call Me teacher and Lord – and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you (John 13:12-15 NRSV).
His journey to Calvary was first to redeem mankind and second to teach us what love and service entail – compassion, mercy, meekness, sacrificial love and faith in God. Yes, in the Calvary journey I see Christ’s love and mercy for sinners, His meekness and faith in God’s will, and His compassion for the weak as Veronica wiped His face, Simon helped Him carry the cross, and Joseph and Nicodemus laid Him in the sepulchre.
This is what Christ’s invitation to carry our cross and walk in His footsteps, washing of one another’s feet, love and service entail: to show compassion for one another, to forgive one another, to shoulder one another’s burden, to wipe one another’s tears, and to have faith that God will reward us for our works of charity and love. Kindly know that the Christian Faith is founded on love; it is a ministry of love, on the basis of which everyone will be judged. Therefore:
Christianity will lose its identity and character if we remove the cross which signifies love, pain and death to sin and self-indulgence.- Father George Ehusani
After Christ’s Ascension, as the Good News began to spread across communities of the world, many rejected the Cross. But one of the great ministers of the Good News was proud to glory in the Cross of Christ: “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” (Galatians 6:14).
Thus, Archbishop Allen Henry Vigneron charged the ministers of the Good News:The cross is the single greatest demonstration of love ever seen. Help them to understand it. Repeatedly call their attention to it. Help them to understand God doesn’t simply tell us He loves us; He shows us.
The man who said his wife was his own cross, to some extent, was right. Marriage can only be fulfilling when the husband and wife learn to love, forgive, show compassion toward each other, serve each other in humility and have faith in each other and in God. Likewise, every relationship should seek peace and joy, as the scripture opines:
Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up. So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good to all, and especially for those of the family of faith (Galatians 6:2,9-10 NRSV).
Brothers and sisters in Christ, we must be willing at all times to say, “I can, by Your Grace,” to Christ’s question to the sons of Zebedee, “Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptised with the baptism I am baptised with?” (See Mark 10:38-39). The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ is sufficient for us to love, show compassion, forgive one another, to be meek and have faith in God’s will for us. And when you are overburdened by the weight of the cross, reach out to Christ and He will grant you rest. (See Matthew 11:28).
Have you accepted the invitation of Christ, to take up your cross and follow Him? Are you walking in Christ’s footsteps? Today, what kind of cross are you carrying along with Christ?
Heavenly Father, alone I can’t do anything worthy. Help me with the grace to humbly serve You through my love and service to men and women created in Your image and likeness. Amen.
Jesus Christ Speaks
I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13:34-35 NRSV).