31 August 2008

Carrying Our Crosses

In today's Gospel, we hear Jesus tell the apostles the cost of discipleship: the weight of the cross. There were no options presented, Jesus made clear that the road that leads to His kingdom is the way of the cross. Without making light of the sufferings of those who are afflicted with serious illness or those who struggle with addiction, it is important to note that crosses come in many shapes and sizes and not all crosses are equal -- but all crosses are fit for for the shoulders which bear them.

For those of us who may not be burdened with immense crosses, let us bear well those which come our way -- the little inconveniences of traffic jams and jammed copiers, irritable coworkers and tension-filled relationships -- the small but often painful trials of day-to-day life. As we bear these (relatively) minor crosses, let us imitate Simon of Cyrene who helped Our Lord bear his cross. Perhaps there is someone in our life whose cross is visibly larger than ours. Like Simon, let us lighten the burden by being attentive and solicitous. Sometimes the realization that someone cares enough to notice a neighbor's cross -- and to offer assistance -- is, in itself, a healing balm. Few words are as disarming and as endearing as, "May I help you?"

"Do not desire crosses, unless you have borne those already laid upon you well—it is an abuse to long after martyrdom while unable to bear an insult patiently. The Enemy of souls often inspires us with ardent desires for unattainable things, in order to divert our attention from present duties . . . . Do not desire temptations, that is temerity, but prepare your heart to meet them bravely, and to resist them when they come."
St. Francis de Sales

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