Grace and Peace to you.
If you want to become my follower,
and take up your cross and follow me.
For those who want to save their life will lose it,
and those who lose their life for my sake,
and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.
The cross that Jesus invites us to take up is not an abstract thought, nor does it denote religious faith, no matter how devout. The cross in Jesus’ day was not a logo or a metaphor. It was not a kneeling bench on which believers felt holy. The cross was an instrument of pain, shame, absolute loss and death. It was a real weapon; the only way to “take it up” was to become its victim. What can it mean to “take up our cross” but to suffer it? It means to be in solidarity with those who are oppressed, to be one with those who are condemned, to carry in your heart the sorrow of those who suffer, and to pray and to act on their behalf. It is to live for the sake of the least of your sisters and brothers. To take up your cross is to let go of your ego, your willfulness and your desires, and be led wholly by God’s self-giving passion for the world, especially for the poor and the powerless. It is to be willing to suffer for the sake of the world, to work and even endure loss for the sake of the community’s gain. You do this not out of duty, or belief that you ought to be miserable so others can be happy, but you do it out of joy, pure joy in the gift of life, and pure love. To take up your cross is to give your life for the life of the world because that is your delight, trusting that as you empty yourself of your one small, lone life for the sake of compassion, the One who gives life gives it to you abundantly—infinitely and eternally, and still full of joy, overflowing with joy, radiant with divine, immortal joy.
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