Friday, February 17, 2006

Take Up Your Cross

Today's Intro to Christian Spirituality class began with the Gospel reading for the day. Mk 8:34-9:1 Particularly the first line where Jesus says:

"Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me."
Here Jesus gives us the 3 steps to be his follower, "deny ourselves", take up our cross" and "follow him". Father asked whether we take up our cross, or do we drag it along. Which reminded me of this flash animation from donghaeng. If the flash doesn't load on this page, click on this link to view it.
And what was depicted in this flash animation actually describes what was talked about in class. Father asked us, how many crosses were there on Calvary? The answere was one, the Cross of Christ, the other two were burdens, punishments, consequences. Only Jesus' Cross brought about redemption. And so the reflection is, do we cheapen the cross. So often, any suffering we go through, we call it the cross that we have to carry. For us Christians, our crosses that Jesus is asking us to carry, also has to have that redemptive power. We have to embrace it, and offer it to God. If not it is actually a burden. Like in the flash animation, the guy was carrying his burdens, and the cross was dragging behind.

One of the distinctions, is whether our suffering is self-centered, whether they make us resentful, bitter, revengeful? Does it bring misery to others? If so, it becomes a curse, for ourselves and others. And this suffering will cause more suffering. Until we decide to stop this vicious cycle, to use our suffering for good.

So how can we make our sufferings redemptive and into a Cross. First thing to remember is that it's not going to be easy, and of course we need to be careful that it is not selfish suffering, where anything that brings us out of our comfort zone is suffering. With true suffering, we can
  • unite ourselves with the suffering of Christ, for the sins of the world.
  • allow others the opportunity to show love to us. (without wallowing in self-pity)
  • by our suffering joyfully, be a sign of faith and trust in the Lord to others.
  • offer our suffering for others intentions.
We all have questions, of why there is suffering in the world? why do some people suffer more than others? why do good people suffer, and bad ones enjoy life? Ultimatly suffering is a mystery, and we will never have an answer that will truely statisfy us. We can only look at our late Pope John Paul II and learn from how he used suffering to bring himself and others closer to our Lord.

Donghaeng also has another flash video about the cross. I won't put it in this post, as both have sound effects, but it's an inspiring piece that shows us how our cross can help us in our faith journey. Coincidentally, it ends of with the same verse "Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me."

view/download flash animation

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