SEPTEMBER 15, 2020 TUESDAY
COLLECT FOR HOLY CROSS DAY:
Almighty God, whose Son our Savior Jesus Christ was lifted high upon the cross that he might draw the whole world to himself: Mercifully grant that we, who glory in the mystery of our redemption, may have grace to take up our cross and follow him; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.
Jesus called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” -Mark 8:34
Yesterday, the church observed Holy Cross Day. We wear crosses – talk about having to “bear a cross” – like a snarky relative or neighbor. I had a friend in seminary who used to say, “Jesus said, ‘bear a cross, not wear a cross.’” In Jesus’ day, the cross was no pretty jewelry. It loomed as a disgusting, undesirable symbol of suffering and death. It symbolized weakness and vulnerability, the power of Rome – capital punishment on display.
What does “take up your cross and follow,” mean to you? Certainly it’s not a call to be executed, or even to torture. For Jesus it was taking on the greatest worldly power, and for those willing to follow his way, defeat the enemy of death, suffering by a greater power – the power of Divine Love and forgiveness. Did the powers of this world “get” their defeat? No – not yet. They just take different forms in different times.
We attack the world with our strengths. We study hard in school, find a job that gives us means and status. We know signs of success. Some use their success for some very good ends – for others, rather than just themselves. They listen more to Jesus than the world. You want to save your life, Jesus asks? Lose it for his sake. Life gets saved – what Jesus has done, not we have achieved.
The cross is a symbol we take up and accept, surrendering our allegiance to living as those who think earthly power, wealth and status means success. Our allegiance is to the one who leads us through “death” into life for which God has created us — not just when we physically die, but a new life to live for Christ in this world. Take up the cross of Christ.
Thomas Merton once wrote: “Our real journey in life is interior: it is a matter of growth, deepening, and of an ever greater surrender to the creative action of love and grace in our hearts.” That is the action of Jesus. Sometimes it means standing for God’s values of justice and peace; love overcoming hate; being there for one another without first asking “who are you voting for?”; helping a neighbor as you can; walking a journey with someone – “You are not in this alone.”
As you think about what the cross means to you in these days – what do you hear God asking you to surrender, to put down, so you can take up the power of Divine Love? How can you embody the grace of God — and help others find new life? It’s also called living now on the other side of the cross — resurrection. Death is what happens when we refuse to be infused by God’s love.Blessings and God’s loving arms holding you with each breath, Fr. Steve