Our Gospel this weekend can seem very heavy and depressing. Jesus says that “whoever does not carry his own cross and follow me, cannot be my disciple.” Doesn’t sound very inviting, does it?
But there is a lot of wisdom in it. Every life has its burdens, problems, and trials: we can’t avoid them. We all will have illnesses, we all will have setbacks and the death of loved ones, we all will die. But we can CHOOSE how to handle them: if I choose to take up my cross, I can be joyful or at least stay positive, as I carry it. If I fight it, the burden will double and I will become more and more unhappy.
For example, let’s say I develop a painful, debilitating form of arthritis. There are two ways I can react: I can be resentful and angry, allowing it to pull me down and making me a miserable person to be around or I can accept it, pick up the cross, and go forward being as happy and productive as possible.
In other words, I choose HOW I will go through life. I can let my problems absorb all of my energy and joy or I can carry them, but be open to life.
One thing that is helpful when feeling sorry for oneself is to think of others, to make the effort to visit someone who is homebound, to concentrate one’s energy out toward others, instead of towards self. And if someone is thinking of others, is that not “following Jesus,” being his disciple?
Our first reading reminds us that we don’t have the “wisdom” that God does, the wisdom that Jesus preaches and lives out in His actions. And one wisdom we can learn from Jesus is to pick up our cross (it is going to be there anyway) and follow Christ by concentrating on others, not just our own problems and pains. And we WILL be happier. What wisdom!
Church sign of the week: Happily ever after starts here.