“Jesus said to his disciples, ‘If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his like will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. What profit is there for one to gain the whole world yet lose or forfeit himself?’ “ Luke 9:22-25
Matthew and Mark both have Jesus speak of taking up the cross and following him.
Luke, however, adds “daily”. He wants to stress that the day-to-day following of Jesus often involves “the cross”.
To go against the grain.
Embracing “sorry” – not just saying it.
Seeking forgiveness – and returning it equally.
Being fully present for others – and letting them be fully present for you.
Rushing to love – not judge.
To accept, confront and do all the things – big and small – that rub us the wrong way.
To live the way Jesus taught means I often have to go against the grain.
That’s because Jesus preached the “Kingdom of God” – God’s dream for all creation – when peace and goodness and justice will reign.
Jesus teaches me to live the values of the kingdom, even though it’s not fully arrived.
To go against the grain.
By living this way, I help move the world closer to this goal.
But I am often out of step with the values around me, which results in “the cross”.
I cannot simply drift through life, because the drift of the world isn’t always in the right direction.
I have to be willing to take my “cross” – which represents any suffering in my life, but particularly those I have to endure in order to do the right thing.
Paul said, “I die every day.”
And therein lies the rub for each one of us.
It is in the dying.
Avoiding the things we need to accept, confront and do that often go against the grain.
Because they bring discomfort, anxiety and uncertainty.
Yet if we can just find the strength, courage and faith to let go and “die” in this fashion, we can then be reborn.
The next hour.
Every day, week, month and year going forward.
And over again.
That was His message.
That is what He showed us.
And that is how He wants us to follow him.
Moving the world closer to His goal.
But only if we can go against the grain.
(The excerpts in bold and italics are mine. Everything else is from the The Little Black Lenten booklet, supplied to me by Lumen Christi Catholic Church, by way of Bishop Ken Untener, Catherine Haven, editor of the Little Books, with the help of Sr.Nancy Ayotte, IHM, who works with the Catechesis of the Good Sheperd. Distribution is under the direction of Leona Jones – 2015 Diocese of Saginaw)