Today’s Gospel reading comes right after Jesus has announced His coming Passion to the disciples. Peter responds, "God forbid!" and then, after telling Peter to get behind Him, Jesus says, "Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me." What a shock this must have been to Peter, even greater than being referred to as Satan! Here he just told Jesus that the Passion should never come to pass and Jesus says, ‘Well, in fact, you have to go through it, too.’ And, indeed, the apostles and the early martyrs were asked to bear great trials for their faith. But in this modern age where our right to practice and display our faith is protected by law, what are the crosses the we are asked to carry? What is the cross that Jesus asks me to carry?
When I was in my early 20s I prayed to God to show me my cross. I asked him to show me the fire, that I might walk through it and be purified. Ah, the pride of youth. I expected that my cross would be some grandiose event. Some life changing attack on myself that I could suffer and carry and overcome through the grace of God.
But now looking back from middle-age, I wonder. Is the cross that I am to bear, the cross that Jesus tells me I must take up if I wish to follow him, actually some huge event, some life-changing tragedy? Or is it to bear patiently those daily inconveniences, those moments when I’m jarred out of whatever peace I have and find myself gritting my teeth at my fellow humans or some minor frustration? Is my cross to hold my tongue and forgive, even when I think I am right about who lost the TV remote or left the front door unlocked? Is my cross to pray and bless other drivers when they move so slowly that I have to sit at the signal through another red light and am late to work?
I now believe that my cross, what Jesus says I must take up to follow Him, is whatever the Father sends me. I am to participate fully in my day-to-day life, blessing God for what I am given, and working with those circumstances that I find myself in to share God’s blessing’s with others. This is enough of a cross for me today. And if God does send me a great, life changing event, perhaps carrying this day-to-day cross will have better prepared me to accept that, too, as blessing.
Talib Huff is a volunteer at Christ the King Retreat Center in Citrus Heights, CA.