Carrying Our Crosses

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An excerpt from a remarkable little book produced by St Paul's, Questions Jesus Asked:

Jesus instructs us to "take up" the corss. The assumption here is that the cross will be readily at hand, well within our reach. Experiencing the cross is inevitable in our life. It does not present itself as an option for us to consider at our leisure. It can and will come in many forms, emerging within any dimension of our life--physical, emotional, psychological, relational, spiritual. If we are alive, the cross will come. The only point we need to consider is whether we will take it up or pretend to ignore it. The latter approach will consume a great deal of time and energy without contirbuitng to our growth and deveolpment toward union with God. Gradually we learn that taking up the cross is inseparable from following Jesus.

It is intriguing to note the Jesus does not instruct us to search for the cross. The very fact that the cross is inevitable, and thus accesible, would preclude the need for any extensive search. But there is a more significant point here that touches the quality of our growth and development in the spiritual life. If we search for the cross, then we risk creating and customizing it according to our own preference and convenience so it does not disrupt our scheduled plans. Self-created crosses are truly expression of pride regardless of how weighty we construct them to appear. Ultimately, they are decorative and designed to shine the spotlight on us, to draw attention to ourselves. . .

Wow! Isn't that a slap upside the head?

We're supposed to "take up" our crosses, not construct, deconstruct, invert, implode, or otherwise tamper with them. They are uniquely ours and they represent our share in working out our own salvation, but also our share in the salvation of all who surround us. Paul told us that he "made up what was lacking in the sacrifice of Christ." What could possibly be lacking in that sacrifice? It is a puzzlement, but I accept it as truth and from it conclude that we all have some duty to do the same. One thing we present to people that may "be lacking" is a sense of the immediacy and the intimacy of Jesus Christ, Lord and Savior. As we toil through Advent and thirst with the ancient peoples of the desert, awaiting our Salvation, we can take steps to make His presence known. Among those steps is taking up our crosses, not begrudgingly, but thankfully--knowing that by this sign we are saved and we proclaim salvation.

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It is also said that those who avoid the cross find a bigger one.

The scripture "made up what was lacking in the sacrifice of Christ." from 1st Corinthians is indeed a puzzler. Since Christs death was totally sufficient, but I guess it is like the Mother who allows their child to help them bake cookies. The Mother truly requires no effort from the child but allows the child to participate in the baking, just as we in a great mystery are allowed to participate through prayer and penance in the life of others.

Oops, I meant to reference Colossians not 1st Corinthians.

What is lacking in Jes s' sac ifice?

U R.

We can consider the Crucifixion an invitation to eternal life. For an invitation to be complete, it must be accepted, and the means by which we accept Christ's invitation is taking up our cross.


While I agree with the analysis you posit--it does not seem to properly explain St. Paul's mysterious reference to making up what is lacking--it seems that this refers not to a personal salvation or acceptance of invitation, but to a gift given by Paul to the community,

" Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of the body, that is, the Church." (RSV--Colossians 1:24)

So, it seems that "taking up the cross" may contribute to more than our own sanctification. That, at least, was my initial point. Now it is essential as part of our own salvation that we do so--so I wholeheartedly agree with the point that you make--we must take up our Crosses. But I think the mystery of the Cross is such that in doing so we benefit not only ourselves, but also those around us in the community of faith. We each make up some small portion of whatever might be lacking, and thus actively participate in the afflictions of Christ. It makes a certain sense that to be adoptive sons and daughters we must in some wise share in the life and the afflictions of the One Only Begotten Son.



After all, we are part of the Body of Christ. How can your body suffer, and you not suffer? Did not Jesus tell Paul, "I am Jesus, whom you persecute" -- not "I am Jesus, whose followers you persecute"? And what are Jesus's suffering for but to redeem the world?



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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on December 8, 2003 10:42 AM.

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