So what’s your cross?
Last Sunday’s Gospel is one we well may have problems with. It is the one where Jesus tells us to take up our cross and follow him. No bones about it ‘the cross’ doesn’t fit comfortably on any of us. We can so easily get cross about it, especially if we are unsure just what we are supposed to be carrying and how we are supposed to be doing it. Just putting up with bad things that happen doesn’t look like being very life-giving, nor is it.
For most of us, most of the time, our cross involves people, ourselves included. St Benedict offers a piece of wisdom which I have found useful; “Always do what is best for another.” No, that does not mean lie down and be trampled on. It means using all our wit, ingenuity, creativity, love, compassion and kindness in dealing with the people we live with. Oh, and did I say courage….and imagination. Doing what is best for the ones we love is not being a submissive servant but being a lovingly engaged person who seeks to support, challenge, love…and dare we say it, confront and discipline. Aiming to live like that will bring us a rich and full life…and it will be a cross to carry.
Loving God, when Jesus calls us to take up our cross and follow him, it is a call to love like him, drawing others into the fullness of love. Give me the wisdom of your Spirit that I may answer truly the needs of others. We ask this in Jesus’ name confident that you will hear us.
Sr Kym Harris osb
….and once more for the Paralympians.
This week the Church celebrates the Exaltation of the Cross. What on earth could that mean to us? One word should make it clear…Paralympians. Over the past weeks, we have seen people, whose disabilities we would dread having, inspire us with their courage, ability, pride in accomplishment and sheer joy in living and moving. Each has had to face squarely limitation and pain and overcome them. Their disabilities have not dragged them down but rather brought them to a full and rich life.
In the Church’s feast we celebrate the positive life that came through the Cross of Jesus. Our faith simply won’t let negatives be negative. We affirm that the grace of God can transform any situation. While we are still in the glow of the Paralympics, this is a great opportunity to inspire your children to learn and grow from negative experiences. One of the best ways is for you to recall when you have experienced such transformations in your life. Clarify to yourself first what you have learnt and then share the story with your children. You too can be an inspiration to your children.
Loving God, so often we fear difficulties and challenge. Give us the power of your Spirit to use these to come to a richer, fuller life. As we share our stories may we inspire each other to live by the love of Jesus. We ask this in his name confident that you will hear us
‘When things go wrong…’
Everyone reading this has things ‘going wrong’ in their life at this point in time. Think of them, from the small and silly to the serious and distressing. If there isn’t anything serious in your life at the moment there will be in the life of someone dear to you. We react or respond to these things in a variety of ways. We accept or swear, we fight against or passively accept, we try to learn from the situation or to be resilient, we give up or we ignore our pain. And we can react in a variety of ways in the same situation. But how do we see God in these situations?
In the worst of situations, we ask ourselves, ‘Where is God in this mess?’ and all too often we fail to find an answer. But maybe the question is the wrong one. What we could ask is ‘How do I find God in this?’ This shifts our focus: God is not the outsider manipulating the situation, but immersed with me in it. One of the challenges we have as Christians is that no matter how good we are, God rarely takes tough situations away from us. We have to go through them, often feeling bruised and helpless. But God wants to be with us in our lives, in the mess, muddle and pain. We have to struggle – not only with the situation but also it seems with God. We have to die to so many things for life to emerge.
This Friday, the Church celebrates the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross. While the cross was always central to our faith, the image of Jesus on a crucifix did not emerge for centuries: it was too raw, too humiliating, not at all like the way people wanted God to act. Over this coming week, we could look again at the things ‘going wrong’ in our lives, and try to see just how God is with us in our struggle.
Loving God, help me to realise just how scandalous Jesus’ death was and then let me know how you can be with me in the difficult and times of my life. I ask this in Jesus’ name, confident that you will hear me.
Sr Kym Harris osb