Take up your cross and follow me.
Perhaps those words have been greatly tamed over the years. Perhaps we see them as taking up our burdens and following Christ. But the Cross wasn’t a mere burden.
The cross was means of execution. Painful execution.
It would be like Jesus telling us to walk around with the electric chair by which we will be executed. It is like Jesus telling us to walk around with the firing squad that will eventually execute us. This is more than merely bearing burdens gracefully.
The cross Jesus carried was the one He was nailed to and executed upon.
What Jesus is asking for is so much more radical.
Memento Mori: Remember your death.
Taking up your cross does include bearing burdens, but it also includes how we approach life as a whole. Do you live in such a way as to be able to present the totality of our lives to God for His judgement?
It is not just how we bear our burdens, but how we allocate our time, energy and resources. It is about how we forgive and show mercy. It is also about our priorities and what is worshipped.
To take up your cross is all inclusive. It is a recognition that eventually we will die.
Maybe this is the reason Jesus asks us after telling us to take up our cross, “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world but lose or forfeit himself?”
Fr. Bill Peckman is a priest in the Diocese of Jefferson City, Missouri. He is the pastor of Immaculate Conception Parish in Macon, St. Mary Parish in Shelbina, St. Patrick Parish in Clarence, Sacred Heart Parish in Bevier.
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