Does Jesus sound funny in the gospel today? We all love to have joy-filled lives, but Jesus says that anyone who wants to be his follower must take up his cross. ‘Really?’ you may ask, ‘why do we have to take up a cross to follow Jesus as he asked in the Gospel today?’ Always suffering is matter of study or discussion. Why do we suffer? Why does God allow suffering? Why does God allow good people to suffer? Every world religion and philosophy tries to find the answer to these questions.
As we saw in last weekend’s reading, Peter proclaims the faith, “you are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” In this weekend’s reading, we see that Peter objected to Jesus’ prediction of his sufferings. When Peter proclaimed his faith he was in the high moment in his life. But when he heard about suffering, he couldn’t accept it. does this sound familiar in our lives? In the first reading, Jeremiah was send by God, and he was regarded as a traitor by his own people because, as God's spokesperson, he had to foretell the dire results that would follow from their plan of revolt against the mighty power of Babylon. So he became depressed and complained bitterly to God. Jeremiah said, “You duped me, O LORD, and I let myself be duped”
Suffering comes in two different ways to our lives. One, we don’t have much choice, it grabs us. The second one, we make a choice to sacrifice for others. Either way, if we face the suffering with a grateful heart and join with Jesus’s suffering, it has redemptive power. Can we accept suffering with a grateful heart? Yes, but it not easy. It is a process. Normally at the initial stage we would like to deny or avoid suffering. We can move from this stage with God’s grace to receive healing by sharing our pain with the Lord when we pray. We don’t have to be perfect when we pray. We can tell the Lord everything. Another help in moving through these stages to arrive at acceptance and grace, would be to tell a trustworthy friend. There is a saying “A trouble shared is half a trouble.” If we are a caring Christian community, we should be helping each other carry our crosses. If we’re not helping each other carry our crosses, we’re not a caring Christian community.
You may know the thrilling story of Glen Cunningham, a young man whose legs were so badly burned when he was a boy that doctors said he would never walk again. However, this determined champion went on to win an Olympic gold medal as a miler. Even more importantly, Glen Cunningham devoted his life to helping troubled young people. Once, his wife asked, "Glen, why do we have to give so much more than others? No one else is doing what we are." Glen answered, "That's the reason, Ruth. No one else is doing it."
Do we know how many people sacrifice time, talent, and treasure to protect our lives, communities, nation, and world? Are you and me part of it? If yes, are we doing with gratitude? Please pray the words of consecration during Mass with special attention.
On the night he was betrayed, he himself took bread and giving you thanks, he said the blessing, broke the bread and gave to his disciples, saying: “take this, all of you, and eat of it, for this is my body, which will be given up for you.” Jesus took bread and gave thanks just before his crucifixion and death. Jesus took the cross with a grateful heart, because he was carrying it for us, to give us life. Can we do this? “No.” But we can do this with the help God’s grace and with the help of fellow disciples.